Click here to be taken to the Martial Art: Battlefields Kickstarter page. We are very excited to share the next chapter of this game with you. We hope the new gameplay and the historic art we have selected to represent it live up to your expectations--and we sincerely believe they will.
We are very pleased to announce that the Battlefields expansion to Martial Art will be coming to Kickstarter July 24! The basic pledge level will be $9 for one copy of the expansion. If you pledge within the first 24 hours, your name will be included in the rulebook as a thank you.
Battlefields introduces two new mechanics: terrain and weather. Terrain is a type of war card that may be played before battle to affect the outcome. Weather is shuffled into the land deck and takes effect when revealed, altering the battle until a new weather card replaces it.
For more information, click here. We hope you will join us on July 24!
Martial Art is finally getting an expansion! In a few months we will launch the Kickstarter campaign for Martial Art: Battlefields. This expansion will feature effects such as terrain and weather, as well as add some exciting new battle and support cards!
There is a huge amount of room for new cards and mechanics in Martial Art, so if the Battlefields Kickstarter is a success then it will be just the first of several expansions for the game. This expansion will feature 24 new cards, with the possibility of additional cards being added if stretch goals are met.
To represent the tumultuous conditions of the battlefields of feudal Japan, two new mechanics have been introduced to the game: terrain and weather.
Terrain cards are added to the main deck and are drawn and played as other cards. Before battle, each player may play one terrain card, which represents their army moving into a position to make use of the terrain feature they played. The terrain card remains in play for the duration of the battle, and will affect its outcome in some way. Below are two of the new terrain cards in Battlefields. Note that these are simply prototypes and the art has not been chosen nor has the graphic design been completed.
Weather cards add an effect that remains in play until a new weather effect replaces it. Because they remain in play, their effects can span multiple battles. The weather mechanics are still being smoothed out so I won't offer any more details as they may end up changing, but below are a couple of weather cards we have been experimenting with.
Finally, in playing literally hundreds of games of Martial Art we have noticed a few slight card modifications that could improve the game. Therefore, if stretch goals are met, we will include modified versions of a few existing cards which will replace those in the base game. Of course the game is excellent the way it is now, but with a few tweaks we believe we can balance out the power levels of a few cards that stand out.
Geisha has long been the hands down strongest card in the game. The ability to cancel the effect of a Peasants or Assassin as well as guard your own powerful battle cards from enemy support cards makes it the best card to have in almost any situation. Additionally, because it cancels the text on any card, it pushes out any other such effects that we might want to add to the game. Because of this, we would like to split Geisha into two separate cards: Geisha, which cancels the text of a battle card, and Taikomochi, which cancels the text of a support card. This will both lower the cards' power level slightly, as well as create more interesting decisions due to the new limits on what they can cancel.
Emperor and Shogun, in most situations, have too much of a down side to be played at all, despite being strength 12. When you play Emperor you can potentially give the player who already has the most points a free land just because they happened to play Supplies that turn, and when you play Shogun you risk a huge loss in land points. Therefore, we would like to make the following changes. Emperor will give the player(s) with the fewest land points a free land, which reduces the randomness of the card and even creates a slight "catch up" mechanic for someone in last place. Shogun will allow you to choose the land you shuffle back into the deck instead of forcing you to lose your highest point land, which reduces the down side and gives a slight incentive for having one-point lands.
There are a couple of land cards we have a mind to improve as well, which we will reveal later.
We can't wait to get Battlefields out into the world to supplement our proudest game, Martial Art! We will post more updates and share more cards over the coming months as we get closer to launch.
Having mulled an expansion for Martial Art for some time, we decided to focus on that for the first half of 2018. We have two expansions in the works, each 24 cards, which will modify the game in significant ways. Here is a quick overview of these expansions. Both are working names and may change.
Martial Art: Heroes and Villains
The theme of this expansion explores the various heroes and villains of the Sengoku period (though of course as we all know, one person's hero is often another person's villain!). Each player will be dealt two hero cards at the start of the battle, and the villain cards will be shuffled into the deck.
Hero cards differentiate your hand from the other players by giving you the option to play them for unique effects. For example, one hero allows you to gain an extra land after you win a land, which will incentivize you to go for low point lands. Rather than discard your heroes after battle, they will stay face up in front of you where you can eventually retrieve them (more on that later).
Villain cards are shuffled into the deck just like normal cards. Villains have stronger effects than normal cards, but they come at the cost of dishonoring yourself. One Villain is strength 9 and forces all other players to discard two cards on reveal. However, you lose one land point for the dishonor of enlisting that villain's help.
Finally, several lands have been added which will allow you to redraw one or both of your heroes when you win that land. This will give you an interesting decision: do you take the higher point land, or is it worth taking fewer points to redraw you hero?
Martial Art: Battlefields
This expansion explores the effects that the various battlefields of Japan have on the outcome of war. You may find yourself in a strong position on a commanding hilltop, but a rain storm may roll in and disrupt your plans. Both terrain and weather cards are played before battle, and affect the coming battle in some way.
Terrain cards have an effect that is always useful for the person who plays it. For example, a Swamp allows you to prevent other players from playing a card of your choosing. Don't want to risk your Legend being assassinated? Or maybe you don't want your Peasants Geisha'd? Play a Swamp! But be wary, as it will bely your intent, and there are other ways to sabotage you...
Weather cards affect all players equally, including yourself. The Flood card forces all players with a strength of 10 or higher to discard their hands and draw new ones after the battle. Depending on how you play this card, it could be very useful! Or it could be beneficial to another player who is nearly out of cards.
Hopefully you will find these new mechanics as fun and exciting as we do! What do you think of them? Are there any other mechanics you would like to see in this game?
Finally, we have rethemed Dark Web into a game about escaping a haunted house, tentatively called The Witching Hour. More on that later...
OK, we admit it--we ran a bad campaign. We didn't do our homework, and it really showed. I suppose we were spoiled by the performance of Martial Art, which made us think that for some reason we didn't have to properly prepare.
We will relaunch this game at some point in the not-so-distant future, though we will likely retheme it. A hacker-themed game full of ASCII art turned out to not be a very strong turn-on for the Kickstarter marketplace. But aside from that, here are a few specifics of what went wrong.
1. We didn't get the word out
This is easily the most classic Kickstarter mistake creators make. Marketing is insanely important for things like this. Very few people knew about Dark Web, and at launch time we had very little press.
2. We didn't properly vet and display the art
This is the second classic Kickstarter mistake. We all liked the art for this game very much, but ironically it looks a lot better on a card than it does on a computer screen (the irony is that ASCII art is almost exclusively displayed on computer screens). We should have been posting our art for other folks to critique a long time ago so we could get a feel for what people liked and didn't like.
3. The cards were too small
People want full size cards, not itsy tiny half-size cards. Enough said.
So here we are. The relaunch will be run better. We will get the word out, we will make sure to use the most enticing artwork we can come up with, and the cards will be full size from the get-go.
In fact, in hindsight our mistakes are so glaringly obvious that I will be starting a blog on this site called Kickstarter Mistakes, dedicated solely to what we've done wrong and how to avoid repeating those mistakes in the future.
Thanks to everyone who supported us, and we hope to see you next time!
Dark Web has had some delays but we are finally approaching launch time! The game will contain 128 beautiful ASCII-art cards with a basic pledge level of $14. Because there are so many cards and the price point is so low, our funding goal will need to be fairly high, for us anyway: $3,000. This means we will need 100-150 backers just to fund the game so any help getting the word out will be greatly appreciated.
Additionally, to keep the funding goal at $3,000 instead of even higher, the game will start out using mini cards rather than standard size playing cards. Our first stretch goal at $4,000 will be to increase the cards to standard playing card size, but of course the game plays just fine with the mini cards. If the game funds we will likely also raise enough to increase the card size, but you never know.
"Evil House" naming contest
In addition to this, we are planning to launch another card game with the placeholder name "Evil House" in October. This is to deliberately coincide with Halloween as the game is about a young woman named Claire searching for her missing brother James in a haunted house.
Evil House is a cooperative push-your-luck game for 3-5 players. Players take turns as Claire each round, and the other players are the friendly spirits of her ancestors (the house belonged to her now-dead grandparents). At the start of the game each player chooses one word, and they will use that word for the rest of the game to communicate information to Claire about what is in the house. For example, if their word is "beware" and they draw a ghost card, they might say "bewaaaarrre...." like a ghost to communicate to Claire what it is they drew.
Our two front runners for the name of the game are "Claire, Beware!" and "House of Whispers" but we aren't in love with either of those. If you have a name suggestion let us know, and if we end up using it you will be credited in the rule book!
Prototypes of Dark Web, the latest title from Spider-Goat Games, have been ordered and will be sent to reviewers soon!
Dark Web is a game of computer hacking in the 1990s. A small band of freedom fighting hackers team up to take down the evil Moore-Ally-Good Corporation. Search the servers and download as much data as possible to incriminate them, but be wary of digging too deep as you might be locked out! And also be wary of your "teammates", as there may be a corporate spy among you.
The game consists of 128 mini cards featuring some very lovely ASCII art. A few samples have been included below. See the game's page for more!
SGG will be publishing a new game very soon but first we need to confirm the fun. That means we need playtesters! We have three games which we are currently mulling over to decide which is best and, above all, we need to be sure the next game we publish meets our quality standards.
So what are these games? All of them are card games roughly the size of Martial Art, each with its own unique play style and theme. These games don't have official names yet and those below are placeholders, so if you have an idea for a name then by all means let us know!
If you are interested in playtesting any of these games for us then by all means let us know!
This is a game of computer hacking set in the 1990s. A small band of freedom fighting hackers team up to take down an evil corporation. They only meet anonymously over computer networks to conceal their identities, but there's a problem -- one or two of them might be corporate spies!
ASCII Hacks is a game of hidden player rolls and pushing your luck. Search the servers for priceless data files to incriminate the corporation, but be careful not to go too far and have your connection shut down! And above all be careful who you trust as you may not all be on the same side.
Below is some preliminary artwork for the game.As you can see we are using ASCII art, hence the name!
House of Whispers
England, 1940. Claire and her little brother James flee the bombing of London to stay in their late grandparents' abandoned mansion in the countryside. During their first night in the house Claire wakes to find James missing. As she begins to search for him she realizes the house is haunted, but luckily the spirits are not all unfriendly. The ghosts of her ancestors are there to whisper into her ear the dangers that lie ahead so she that may avoid them.
House of Whispers is a cooperative game in which one person plays Claire and the rest play the friendly spirits. As a spirit, communicate what information you can to Claire. As Claire , you must make the right decisions to avoid the terrors of the house!
Set in the Viking Age, this game is about raiding and settling. Raid different regions of Europe using your longships and skilled crew. Collect resources that allow you to upgrade your ships, explore the world, and build settlements throughout Europe!
The following is not our official artwork, but it will give you an idea of the layout of the cards.
If you backed Martial Art on Kickstarter or preordered it through our website, your games should arrive at your door any day now. If you haven't yet purchased the game, additional copies are available through our online shop. Here's a big Thank You from all of us at SGG!
Wow, the Kickstarter campaign for Martial Art really went out with a bang! This game far exceeded our expectations in the interest it generated. Judging by the way it accelerated over the last few days, it's obvious this game has hit on something that's highly desired by gamers right now.
This is the funding graph for Martial Art. Notice how it never really levels off and how it spikes big time at the end. In contrast, below is the funding graph for Gangster Dice.
This is what is called an inverse bell curve. It surges at the beginning, levels off in the middle, and spikes again at the end. As you can see, for the middle 2 weeks or so of our campaign we were getting virtually no pledges. Many Kickstarter funding graphs look like this.
So why did Martial Art stay so strong for so long and finish with a bang? To be honest we're not entirely sure, but we have a few ideas.
- Never underestimate the power of beautiful art As I've said before, art is king. Art is what draws people to your project. I asked a lot of backers what it was that drew them to the game, and I don't think a single person mentioned "gameplay" as the main allure.
- We ran BGG ads for the entire campaign Board Game Geek ads have again proven themselves to be worth the money. If they didn't convince people to back right away, at least people were being made aware of the game.
- We engaged our backers as much as we could People appreciate attention and are drawn to passion. Every one of us at SGG displayed that passion for the duration of the campaign, whether it was demoing the game to friends or chatting with folks on tabletop game forums.
Hopefully we can build upon this game's success and continue to learn and grow for future games. For now though, we have a card game to produce. =)
A welcome surprise
The Kickstarter campaign for Martial Art is nearing its halfway point and we are blown away by how well it is going. We have already passed 150 backers (Gangster Dice only had 120 total) and financially we have greatly exceeded our expectations.
Because we now have a much better grasp of the monetary aspects of Kickstarter and game publishing than we did when we were producing Gangster Dice, the success of this campaign should allow us to continue to put out great games without having to dip into our own pockets to fund the projects, which has always been the dream.
A quick rundown of our backer summary shows just under 250 copies currently pledged, which means it is not unreasonable for us to think we might end up with 500 or more by the end of the campaign. This means we may be able to print 1,000 copies or even more and see if a distributor wants to pick up the game and get it into retail stores.
What are the main takeaways?
We have learned a few things about what to do right in a Kickstarter campaign by the surprising enthusiasm we have been met with for this game. These are very good lessons to learn and are important to consider for the future.
- Art is king - It cannot be stressed enough that the presentation of a game is at least as important as the gameplay itself. While Martial Art saw extensive design, development, and playtesting in an effort to make the gameplay as compelling as possible, ultimately it has been the art that has attracted people to our project. Resurrecting some of the most beautiful art pieces of feudal Japan was one of the best decisions we ever made.
- Low-priced rewards make it easy to pledge - If you are browsing Kickstarter and you see a game that catches your eye, it is much easier to put down $14 to a fairly unknown publisher for a small game than it is to shell out $50 for something large and complex to produce. Going back to point #1 about the art, I have spoken to many backers who aren't nearly as interested in the gameplay as they are the art. When they get their games and find out that Martial Art is as fun as it is beautiful (at least that's what we think) then they will be that much happier.
- People respond well to passion and appreciation - In the board game industry, where games are created to bring people together around a table, it pays to get folks emotionally invested in your game. It also pays to show them your genuine appreciation for the faith they have put in you to deliver. Before the campaign I was in touch with some great groups of people to playtest the game and get their opinions on development, and they sure didn't disappoint. On that note, a big thank you to everyone who helped us with this game!
As I write this there are 16 days left in the campaign. It will be an exciting experience to see what Martial Art can achieve by the campaign's end!
We at SGG are very excited to announce that the Kickstarter campaign for Martial Art will be launching on Tuesday, June 21. We have been blown away by all the positive feedback this game has received from our play groups and we can't wait to share it with the world!
Martial Art official page (check out the cards, they look amazing!)
Below is a link to our first official review. One of our playtesters described it as "a light card game that is easy for casual gamers to learn and enjoy, with enough strategic depth to challenge hard core players as well." This is exactly what we had hoped it would be, as the game was originally designed for gamers to play with their significant others or as a filler.
Martial Art review by Guild Master Gaming
A Look into the Future
We love making games. We love it so much that we already have more games in the works for our next project if Martial Art is a success.
The frontrunner is a game in which the goal is to survive a haunted house. It is a small card game, the same size as Martial Art or possibly a bit larger.
The story for this game is a girl named Elizabeth and her little brother James have gone to stay in their grandfather's old house. The first night they are there, Elizabeth wakes up and James is gone. She must now search for her brother in a haunted house filled with dangers that are slowly coming to life.
This haunted house game is currently our best prospect for a third game. We have had other ideas and made other prototypes but this one is the strongest so far. We hope to bring you some good news about it in the coming months, but first we must get Martial Art printed. We hope very much that you will support us in our efforts to produce this game!
The prototypes for Martial Art have arrived and they look amazing! They are very colorful and feel really good in your hands. It's strange playing with such nice cards after months of using sleeved card stock. :)
Each art piece is a historic Japanese artwork printed in high definition on 300 GSM cards. 300 GSM is the standard for quality playing cards.
The cards were printed by makeplayingcards.com. We hadn't ordered from them before so this was partially an experiment, and they more than lived up to our expectations.
Also under experiment was the decision to forego card borders so that the art could go all the way to the edge of the card so as to allow the fullest image possible. As you can see, this worked quite well.
The rule booklet also turned out wonderfully and the print quality is exceptional.
We managed to pack all the rules into a tiny booklet that fits nicely inside a tuck box, without leaving out any crucial details. The only downside is that we could not fit card clarifications or FAQs in the booklet, but we will post them on this website.
The Kickstarter campaign will be launching June 12 or June 19, depending on how quickly the reviewers get to the game. We hope to see you there!
Set during the Japanese Sengoku period (the Age of the Country at War), Martial Art is a card game of factions warring for dominance of feudal Japan. The game consists of a series of battles in which players must anticipate their opponents' actions, build their hands, and manage their cards to acquire enough land and power to defeat the other clans and win the game. The cards feature historical Japanese artwork (Nihonga), from which the game derives its name.
What is great about this game is that, while the basic rules are incredibly simple, the diversity of the card effects and the necessity of anticipating your opponents' play work together to create a multitude of unique and intriguing situations.
The goal of the game is to accumulate enough points to win, and the way you get those points is to conquer land. Each turn you fight a battle to win one of 1-3 land cards (depending on the number of players). Battles are fought by each player placing a card from their hand face down, then revealing them simultaneously. The player whose card has the highest strength is the winner and gets to choose which land card to take, followed by the second highest strength and so on. Then you each draw a card and repeat.
That's it. You now know how to play the game. However, this game isn't High Card or War. Each card has a unique effect. For example, the Lord and Assassin cards below. These cards are prototypes we put together using Paperize, a program that creates card PDFs for use in testing. We were originally going to use European art, but artwork from the Middle Ages tends to be--well--bad. So we decided to theme the game around feudal Japan instead, and we are gathering the artwork now.
The Lord at strength 10 is a powerful card as strengths range from 0 to 12. However, as you can see, the Lord has a downside: if you win a land you must discard a card. And as mentioned already, hand management is a large part of the game.
Now the Assassin's strength is fairly low, but as you can see from the rules text, he is the bane of powerful cards like the Lord. If you think someone might have an Assassin, you may think twice about playing your highest strength card.
Below are a couple of interesting cards involving the card economy (hand management) aspect of Martial Art.
The Supply Wagon is your basic hand-building card. Instead of drawing the usual card after the battle, you get to draw 4. However, at strength 0 you are basically conceding the fight and accepting the fact that you will conquer no land this round with the expectation that the cards you draw will allow you to conquer lands in the future.
The Archer has a special keyword: Support. A Support card may be played as normal, or discarded for its effect at the specified phase of the game. In this case, the Archer is discarded before battle and its effect takes place after the battle. Because of this, your opponents don't know what you are going to play and they have to make an educated guess. Are you bluffing to get them to play low cards, or are you really just going to play a weak card and force them to discard?
This game was originally designed for just two players, however we began playing the game with 3, 4, and 5 people and found that it was even more fun when played multiplayer. Because of this the game can support up to 5 players, yet it truly works as a 2-player game that you can even play with casual gamers. For example my girlfriend, who is not a "gamer", greatly enjoys playing me one-on-one--possibly because she wins most of the time. ;)
The game design and development are almost fully complete at this point, and right now we are focusing on the production aspect. We still need graphic design for the cards, box, and rule booklet, and we still need to select the best artwork we can find for the cards. This process is moving along steadily.
Finally, we will need funding through Kickstarter to print the game. We are currently planning to launch the campaign in a couple of months. Because it is only a single deck of cards, the price per game will probably be in the $10-12 range. We really hope you will support our efforts to print this game! Everyone who has played it so far has had a great time. We believe you will too. :)
So what else is on the way from SGG? Nothing is certain yet, but this blog post we recently added to BoardGameGeek should give you some inkling of our thought process for publishing more games. Check it out!
One of our German backers has done a video review of Gangster Dice!
All the Gangster Dice games are on their way to backers! To everyone who helped make this game a reality, thank you so much!
When you receive your games and check them out we would love to hear from you regarding component quality, artwork, gameplay, or anything you would like to discuss. Please feel free to post your thoughts or questions here on our website, on BoardGameGeek or on our Facebook page.
We will be launching more games next year and possibly an expansion for Gangster Dice, and we really hope you will put your trust in us again to deliver a solid game. Thanks again!
We spent Saturday assembling the Gangster Dice games and we are very pleased to announce that they will be ready for RinCon this weekend! Anyone who comes to this local Tucson gaming convention may pick up their game here. We will also be demoing Gangster Dice from 11am to 3pm in the main room!
After RinCon we will begin shipping the games out to the awesome folks who backed us on Kickstarter. US backers can expect to receive their games within a couple weeks!