Who’s Morris? – Twelve and Three Men’s Morris Board

2 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: Unknown

Creator(s): Unknown

The most important question you must consider when playing any Morris game, is who was Morris? Now considering it dates back to… God knows when and God knows where, this could be very hard to discover and for more information on this one should view our earlier post here! I like to think Morris was a man who discovered this game while playing Tic Tac Toe drunk…Or high on opium, maybe? If it was first played in China? but I’ll let you formulate your own ideas!

Without Further Ado:

My Twelve and Three Mens Morris Board:

My proudly crafted board!
My proudly crafted board!

I made this myself in the same way I made (and on the back of) my Fanorona board which you can see here and also see the technique for making one.

Why did I make my own I hear you ask? Well I’ll let Ron Swanson form the show Parks and Recreation explain:

(this video will start at the relevant quote but watch the whole thing for the full effect)

Aside from that, versions are expensive and difficult to come by. So when you have a piece of wood, the tools and the know-how, just make one!

Three Men’s Morris:

Now there are different versions of Three Men’s Morris but one of them is exactly the same as Tic Tac Toe, So I made the one that wasn’t (for obvious reasons). Quite possibly the shortest game I have ever played taking literally about a minute to play (like Tic Tac Toe) and coming to an immediate win, lose or draw! However even the version I created, which lacked the diagonals of Tic Tac Toe could still just as easily by played on paper because there is no movement phase like in Nine and Twelve Men’s Morris. So is it worth spending an hour branding a game board for it? Probably not, just variate your games of Tic Tac Toe every once in a while.

Three in a row, just like Tic Tac Toe!
Three in a row, just like Tic Tac Toe!

Twelve Men’s Morris:

This is a game that is much more complex and I’me much happier I went to the effort to make a board for it. With all of the aspects of Nine Men’s Morris but even more to think about (as you have more pieces and diagonals to consider) it can be a quite challenging game. It is played exactly the same as the Nine Men version but with Twelve pieces and a board with diagonals on it. So, you could just draw diagonals onto your Nine Men’s board, or even imagine them! But why do that when you can spend hours with a soldering iron?

A game in mid swing.
A game in mid swing.

I would recommend anyone who’s a fan of Nine Men’s Morris to give this ago or even a fan of Chess or Droughts. Additionally if you don’t want to buy a physically version HERE is a website where you can play all the different versions of all the Morris games either against a computer or a human. Or if you want an excuse to buy a video game under the premise that it has some educational value or at least some strategic thinking value the Morris game in various forms can be found in both Assassins Creed III and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag so buy them now!

On Another Note – Breach The Keep:

To anyone who cares we ordered the first real print of our very own board game Breach The Keep which you can find more information on here. Hopefully they’re going to look great, they’re being printed in the US and shipped to the UK (because for some insane reason that’s cheaper than just printing them in the UK. So expect pictures and an update on the free games give away some time soon. If all goes to plan the game should be ready to go in less than two months!

But we all know life never goes to plan.

Additionally we’re also planning a video blog to go alongside/be part of this blog. We’re just contemplating structure and formatting and getting hold of equipment etc. But that could happen anytime soon so keep an eye out for that too!

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To Be a Criminal – Outrage! Steal the Crown Jewels and Breach The Keep – Board Development

4.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2-6

Year of Publication: 1992

Creator(s): Unknown

Continuing the Theme of Criminality:

What’s more fun, catching a criminal or being one? Probably neither in reality but in the world of board games I’d say being a criminal! For example being Mr X in Scotland Yard is more fun than trying to catch him, and attempting to steal the crown Jewels in Outrage! is a lot of fun.

The box
The box

The aim of the game is obvious, it’s even in the name! But, the cool thing about the game is you get a whole set of mini crown Jewels to try and steal! Only problem with them is they are liable to get lost or broken. However, providing you’re careful and don’t feed them to any small children or animals you should be OK.

The jewels. Out Orb is slightly broken.
The jewels. Out Orb is slightly broken.

Outrage! Is a game for 2 – 6 people and is more fun with more people as with 2 it can be slow moving.  You have to move around the board, which is the layout of the tower or London, acquiring burglary tools, weapons and armor (in the form of Tower Cards) while avoiding the Yeomen Warders posts.

A Yeoman Warder at his post.
A Yeoman Warder at his post.
The board all set out ready to play.
The board all set out ready to play.

You can play by two strategies depending on what weapons or tools you have. You can either go for a crown jewel OR you can wait for someone else to steal one and attack them for it. Which can be super frustrating because after lots of careful planning you can steal a jewel and be ready to make your escape, then someone else can attack you and take it from you and win after all your hard work! But it does add an addition edge to the game.

You can set two win parameters for the game, either its the first person out with any Jewel OR you can play until all Jewels are stolen and the player with the most amount in points wins.

The pieces wearing the Crowns; which is actually the biggest design flaw in the game is they don't fit on top of them, which is upsetting, but additionally I don't think they are supposed to.
The pieces wearing the Crowns; which is actually the biggest design flaw in the game is they don’t fit on top of them, which is upsetting, but additionally I don’t think they are supposed to.

It can be an extremely fun game, but like many games it can vary a lot in time depending on how lucky a player is or is not. Also there are two other versions of the game a travel version which I recently managed to pick up in a charity shop for about £3 (around £6 cheaper than ebay) and a Deluxe edition of the game which (according to wikipedia, the greatest source of completely accurate and unquestionable knowledge EVER) is the most expensive board game in the world valued at £7995, the Jewels are made out of real precious metals.

Image curtsy of http://www.historicroyalpalaces.com/ as surprisingly we didn't own one to take a picture of.
Image coutesy of http://www.historicroyalpalaces.com/ as surprisingly we didn’t own one to take a picture of.
Outrage! Travel edition, I bought this from a charity shop for £2.99.
Outrage! Travel edition, I bought this from a charity shop for £2.99.

Breach The Keep – Board Development:

Now I know you’ve (I don’t know who I mean by that) all been wondering how our board game Breach The Keep has been coming along and here’s the answer, the result of giving it to a highly paid graphic designer (ha! if only):

The board development so far!
The board development so far!

What do you think?

Genuinely I want to know what people think so any comments or criticisms are most welcome. Its still arguably a work in progress. I’m thinking to texturize the grey at each end, which is where your pieces start, to a stone type texture but I can’t make up my mind.

Anyway it has been sent to be printed properly in full size so I can see how well that works and then work from there. So next week (hopefully) there will be pictures of a real board and perhaps some pieces (if we’re really organised) ready to go up, additionally I might release the full rules document on the very small off chance there’s anyone interested in reading them.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions and criticisms all welcome.

Also remember we will be giving ten of these away for free once they are done, to get feedback, so keep on checking in to see how close we are to the give away and be ready to email us as soon as the post goes up!

Breach the Keep – Under development!

Now… The totally unexpected and unanticipated game! That thing that no one has been waiting for! A look at the obscurest game of all…

Breach the Keep! 

Also widely known as that game I just made up that’s actually quite good, or so I think!

The Idea:

So one day I’m sitting there and I’m like “I should develop a board game” so I go and create a terribly complicated game about super heroes… Then a year later I come up with Breach the Keep after saying to my sister “we should develop our own board game!”. The initial idea was for the board, I thought it would be good to have a basic strategy game that did’t move in squares, so I came up with the idea of intersecting Octagons, Hexagons and Squares and drew this:

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My super wonky first prototype of the board!

What I was going to use it for exactly hadn’t yet come to me, all I thought was that the octagons and squares had to mean something different to the hexagons. So (naturally) I started thinking about war… Most strategy games seem to be based in some form or other on the idea of war. I started thinking about medieval war and how you had to advance step by step, taking your enemies castles and burning their villages (yeah not pretty but it was war). So I thought, what if the octagons where castles and you had to make your way down the board taking them as you go and holding them against your enemy and thus the initial idea was born.

Development:

Next I had to establish rules to the game, I had to work out how it should work and decide upon an objective. First I thought what if you just had to take all the other pieces? But then that seemed stupid, they (I have no idea who) always say the mark of a bad chess player is one who has to take all their opponents pieces before they can put them in check mate. So I thought what if, like chess, you had to capture their king? Then he could be in your Home Keep that, if breached, meant you lost. This seemed like a good idea so I went with it. We then had to test play (a LOT) to figure out how movement would work and how taking and breaching would work.

Yes those are Warhammer pieces, Draughts pieces and a few Othello pieces.
Yes those are Warhammer pieces, Draughts pieces and a few Othello pieces.

So test play ensued, using pieces borrowed from other games to try to figure out how many pieces were good, how much they could move, how they could move etc. This was a long and depressing process of trying out almost everything we could think of and debating if certain things worked or not. I won’t go in to detail here or you’ll get bored and if you’re still reading at this point you’re probably already bored enough. So in super short detail we came up with some great ideas for combining pieces so they could move further to make them more powerful and so great ideas to balance the breaching of a keep against the defense of it. We also decided that the board was too small so I created this one:

The basic concept of the board - It will be much prettier once it is done!
The basic concept of the board – It will be much prettier once it is done!

Which is still underdevelopment in a aesthetic sense but after much more trial playing we were rather happy with:

IMAG1039 IMAG1028  IMAG1033 IMAG1031

So i started thinking what to do with it next. Obviously I wanted a real copy of it rather than something printed on A4 paper taped together and stealing other board game pieces to play. Additionally I needed it to be tested by a wider audience so I thought “why not start a blog and offer up ten free copies once you’re ready in exchange for feedback to see if it’s actually a terrible game and you’re just blinded by your own delusions!” and so here we are. However the game is still under development, the board is being made to look pretty, I’m busy creating box art and pop out pieces that can be used with the game when its distributed. Additionally we’re trying to make the rules as understandable as possible (I often complain about ambiguity in other rules so I’m trying to make these as good as possible, unfortunately, and as you might be able to tell, writing’s not exactly my forte).

Concept designs for the box cover and for the Octagons (keeps) on the board.
Concept designs for the box cover and for the Octagons (keeps) on the board.
A very basic and rough digital concept of the box art.
A very basic and rough digital concept of the box art.

And Now Let’s Briefly Ramble:

So hopefully the game will be ready in around one – two months and will be shipped to the first ten people who send their address to the given email free of any charge on the condition you give feedback and tell me what can be made better and what you would have done differently. Now you’re thinking “Damn it now I have to keep checking this thing before I can get free stuff… But I want free stuff NOW!”. Well tough! Patience is a virtue, well actually Aristotle wrote about Temperance rather than patience but it could be understood as the same thing… Anyway this is a board game blog not a philosophy blog… Although I should start one of those too because philosophy is the birth of all knowledge and knowledge is POWER!

First post, Obscurity, Sneak Peeks and Java

So! First post! If you’re reading this WELL DONE! If not… I don’t blame you.

First post and Obscurity!

The aim of this blog is just to talk about games; mostly obscure ones if we possibly can… Let’s be honest not many people want to talk about Monopoly. The other aim is to show our ideas and designs for games and give some away for FREE, so you can test them and give us your feedback. We have one in the works right now so keep an eye on this space as the first ten people to email us with their addresses will get a properly produced copy sent to them completely free of charge – providing they promise to give us feedback!
Even if it’s just to tell us we’re terrible and should just leave.

Sneak Peeks:

Here’s the tiniest sneak peek of the game under development:

Yes those are Warhammer pieces, Draughts pieces and a few Othello pieces.
Yes those are Warhammer pieces, Draughts pieces and a few Othello pieces.
The basic concept of the board - It will be much prettier once it is done!
The basic concept of the board – It will be much prettier once it is done!

Java:

4.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2-4

Year of Publication: 2000

Creator(s): Michael KieslingWolfgang Kramer (Designers) and Franz Vohwinkel (Artist)

So the first on our list of Obscure games is an awesome game called Java.

IMAG0989

As far as we can figure from searching for it online it’s pretty hard to come by, lucky for us we picked it up in a charity shop for £3.99 on a whim. It’d never been used before as none of the pieces had been pushed out of their holders. Only downside we could find was a dent in the box but at £3.99 we’re not complaining…. Much.

IMAG0978

The game in essence can be seen as a strategic planning game. Your aim is to take control of the island of Java through building cities and enlarging them by placing more land pieces strategically. To win you have to score more fame points than your opponent, you accumulate these through building palaces and enlarging them and through palaces festivals or irrigating. From this run down of the game it sounds kind of boring and probably doesn’t make all that much sense… In fact when we were reading the rules we were thinking… Wow this could really suck. However it has a sort of charm to it that is unexpected and you quickly find yourself starting to try to out think your opponent. It also helps that you’re allowed (and encouraged to in the rules) to make the board more three dimensional by stacking pieces on top of each other, this is a visual bonus as the board ends up looking pretty cool!

IMAG0980

Now, as this is the very first post I’m not going to go on too much as I don’t want to bore you to death. If you have the opportunity to get hold of a copy of Java, go for it! It’s entertaining and tactical, it makes you have to constantly watch your opponents moves and think. It’s also very easy to turn the tide so for those who like games that aren’t a set thing from within the first four or five moves this is a good game.

IMAG0987

Hopefully we’ve ticked all the boxes with this post. Next post will be a full update on our own board game – which by the way is called ‘Breach the Keep’ cool name right? And after that we’ll see where life takes us.