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Happy Birthday to RWOG Streamer, Fluffy the Necromancer!

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Have a Safe and Happy 4th!

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Happy Birthday, Vanri the Rogue!

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Kickstarter Guide: How to Pick Your Favorite Child – Which of your fantastic ideas is best to launch on Kickstarter?

Kickstarter Guide: How to Pick Your Favorite Child – Which of your fantastic ideas is best to launch on Kickstarter?

Now, there are games which are passion projects and games that are fun for your friends and then there are games with which to launch your budding business. All are valid but you have to work out which you want to do. Working out at this stage, before you’ve spent your money, what you want to do is very important. If you want to have a game which you made and can whip out at parties, then Game Crafter is a great place to do this. Think of it like a hobby, get the art and graphic design that you want, make it, play it, and enjoy but don’t expect other people to want to part with their hard-earned cash for it. For small scale production again, Game Crafter is great, or consider making it into a print and play and putting it into a few competitions, Boardgame Geek almost always has one running. This is a good place to hone your design skills but more on that another time. However, if you’re serious about starting a business or are willing to have 1000 copies of your game to sell for a few years, then crowd funding is a good way to go.

But which idea to develop? For your first Kickstarter you ideally want the one with the least components, the one that’s easiest to playtest, has the broadest player count, has the most approachable theme, least off-putting mechanics and most attention-grabbing components.

So, with regards to the number of components, this is a development skill. Every time you play your game consider if there’s anything you can get rid of, remember during production you are paying for every single card and counter, the fewer the better. This will also help keep your game compact both as a concept and literally. No-one likes a game where you only get to use half the cards before it’s over. Also, if you can keep your component types down this will save you money; once you’re set up to print one card five hundred isn’t an issue, but one card and one dice and one meeple are all different components that require different manufacturing processes. Additionally, remember that you’ll be paying for shipping; the box is the most expensive thing you’ll be paying for so the bigger and heavier it is the more expensive. 

Ease of playtesting might seem obvious but getting playtesters, particularly for blind playtesting, is difficult. If you can make your game on Tabletop Simulator that will really help. If you want to ship your game out to playtesters, again, remember that you’ll have to provide them with all the components at a reasonably professional level; playtesters are generally a forgiving bunch but if you’re sending your game off they’ll need it to be a bit better than the pen and paper version your buddies have been playing. Consider making a print and play as it can be freely shared around the world at basically no expense, however this will limit you on unusual components; playtesters won’t want to go out and buy an egg timer for example.

As to player count, if you have a party game with a count of 6-12 it won’t be a solo game and equally if it’s 1-4 it won’t play at 20. It’s mainly about having the widest player count your game can comfortably support. If you have one idea that’s a 2-3 player count or one that’s a 1-4, go for the 1-4. Solo modes are increasingly beneficial and ubiquitous, but this also means that backers are increasingly discerning of them, include it if possible, but only if you can do it well.

Theme can be a vital element of marketing. Try to avoid things like extreme horror as it will limit your market. Feel free to have something a bit niche, you don’t have to go for the ubiquitous pirate, zombie, anthropomorphized animals, but bear in mind that theme can limit you. Ensure, however, that your theme is worth more than it costs.

With mechanics there are a few things that will hamper a Kickstarter, for example player elimination and old-fashioned roll and move. I’m not saying you have to design a roll and write, but try to make the mechanisms as user friendly as possible. Finally, the components, having just one or two components that someone really wants can be a massive benefit. With our games we haven’t done this yet, our attention-grabbing thing has been mechanics and artwork; however, if you can have custom meeples or dice, or a playmat or dice tower, it can really help a campaign. You may end up spending a lot of money on components that won’t help sell your game, but if you can find a cost effective, eye catching thing that can really be a plus. See Jamey Stegmaier’s blog/games for more on this.

So, you’ve picked the game to be your first Kickstarter, congratulations! But what now? See my next blog on the next step, the wonderful world of Playtesting!

The Long Road

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Back in 2013, we honestly had no idea that we’d be where we are today. We were just a bunch of women sick of not being taken seriously in the gaming world. We were tired of seeing the constant barrage of the “fake gamer girl” stereotype. We made a Facebook page to raise awareness that the women who game are real gamers and not just faking it to get the attention of gamer guys.

Today, on the eve of 2019, we realize just how much we’ve grown. We have this amazing website, a YouTube, Twitch and Mixer channels, and a huge presence across social media. We’ve raised thousands for charity, been invited to exciting conventions, and made so many new friends in all of you. We’re incredibly proud of the journey so far, but it’s not over. Not by a long shot.

We wanted to take the time to say thank you to all of you who helped us get this far and continue to support us as we move forward. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for you! We appreciate every single one of you more than you could ever know. To our readers, our viewers, our patrons, our friends: Thank You!

Happy New Year

Now, here’s what we have planned for 2019:

New Content

Keep an eye out for new content on both the website and YouTube. This coming year, we will be featuring games created by women, reviewing new and old games alike, and bringing you the latest gaming news.

Live Shows

The LOST: This Dungeons & Dragons show, run by VelozMuerte, will keep it’s spot on the first Saturday of every month, but will also be claiming the third Saturday! Now you’ll get twice as much!

The Alabaster Forest: Run by Oresan_Fells, this D&D show will hold tight on the second Saturday of every month.

New Seattle Rifts: This exciting City of Mists adventure, run by Oresan_Fells, will continue into 2019 on Sundays at 7pm EST.

Past episodes of all of these shows can be found on YouTube!

Charity

Be Someone’s Superhero: April 27th. This event will benefit PACER’s Anti-Bullying Centers. Real Women of Gaming will be live from the Microsoft Store in the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, PA. Hang out with us on stream and in store!

You’re Not Alone: July 27th. For the fifth year in a row, we are fundraising against bullying! This event will benefit PACER’s Anti-Bullying Centers. We will be live from Uncanny! Comics & More in the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, PA. As usual, there will be giveaways on stream and a raffle in store.

Charities & Champions: September 28th. Back by popular demand, we will be playing Dungeons & Dragons to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia! As always, your donations can affect the game. Help or hinder our players/DM to create the most interesting D&D one shot we can possibly create.

100% of proceeds will go to the respective charities.

We’re so excited to go through this next year with you all. Here’s to a fun, exciting and game-filled 2019!

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Dungeon Crawling: Bards

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Lords, Ladies, Lads, and Lasses, today I present my take on Bards.

A class I have never played.

You may ask, “How the heck can you have an opinion on Bards if you’ve never played one?!” Easy, I’ve played along side them, and I’ve DM’d for them.

The Bard class is a charisma based spell caster, a jack-of-all-trades, and mainly considered to be a support class. Their sub-classes are broken up into Colleges, with two in the Player’s Handbook, and three more waiting within the pages of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. 

The basic class uses Charisma as their casting stat, can use a musical instrument as their spell focus, and is also a ritual caster. They are performers, and if you have a problem being the “face” of the group, coming up with witty one-liners for your Vicious Mockery cantrip, or can’t parse together a quick ditty to sing inspiration for your fellow party members, then you’re playing the wrong class.

They have access to all skills from the get go, and those they don’t choose they can add half of their proficiency to any way at 2nd level. At 3rd level they can choose two that they are proficient in to gain double proficiency in as well.

And 3rd level is when you choose your Bardic College. This choice will slightly alter how you use your Bardic inspiration. Lore bards can distract with their words, protecting their allies in combat. Their foe’s attacks will strike with less impact, or sometimes even miss altogether.  Valor bards on the other hand can help add to their allies damage, or their AC. Those bards who enter the College of Glamour from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything can grant a group of people temporary hit points, and a free move. Sword college bards are master of the flourish, their bardic inspiration helps them dance around their foes, pushing them about, striking a second enemy, or even simply boosting their own AC. Those bards that join the College of Whispers can literally strike terror into the minds of their foes. Their Bardic Inspiration dice can be used to do psychic damage along with their melee attacks when they so choose.

Each of the five current official colleges only expand upon their themes as you level. Lore bards gain greater expertise with their skills, add spells from other classes to their repertoire. Valor bards gain training in medium armor, shields, martial weapons, and an extra attack. Eventually they can even cast a spell while making an attack with their weapon. Glamour bards gain power over the crowds, charming the masses, enthralling them, and dissuading them wanting to harm the bard in the first place.  Sword college bards gain extra attacks, medium armor training, and proficiency with the scimitar. Eventually they can use a free d6 for their flourishes instead of using up the finite resource of their Bardic Inspiration. Finally the College of Whispers allows it’s bards to steal the visage of the recently deceased, gaining the general knowledge and memories they would share freely with a casual acquaintance, and allowing the bard to pass themselves off as the deceased with greater ease. Eventually they can convince a target that they know a deep secret and charm them for an extended period for fear of revealing said secret.

So if you wish to sing, and cast spells whilst playing at being a Skill Puppy, a Duelist, The Center of Attention, a Dervish, or an Assassin they maybe, just perhaps, the Bard is the class for you.

 

Top Ten D&D Foes (You probably HAVEN’T heard of)

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Firstly, if you haven’t already, go check out my “Top 10 D&D Foes (You Probably Already Heard Of)”… With that in mind I’m about to take a look at the opposite side of the coin. Foes you may not have heard of (or are sorely underused).

You’ve made your way into the depths of an ancient temple that had tapped into a powerful magical leyline. You’ve heard tell that long ago wizards came here seeking the secret hidden away within the swirling maelstrom of knowledge that has erupted here. In the darkness your lantern passes over a single eye staring back at you, and even though it blinks and seems to slink away, you heart sinks as you think: Beholder. You aim to get a better view for a moment, expecting your inevitable death, and are greeted with a slinking humanoid. Its body an amalgamation of chaos and human. It’s eye passes over you and suddenly you realize that you’ve lost something. A secret you’ve kept. “I know!” It says in a strange language. “It was you that killed her while she slept. She didn’t love you, so you killed her…” You rush forward striking the creature violently. Other eyes appear in the room, slinking between ancient pillars. There is no secret safe from these eyes!

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  1. The Nothic. These beasts are the remnants of corrupted knowledge seekers. They sought secrets that were long forgotten and have been punished by Vecna himself. Their gaze is potent. Capable of stealing secrets from their prey as well as rotting them from within. Nothics are a great addition to any long lost magical temple.

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  1. Water Weird. Have you ever wanted to drown your friends… figuratively of course. These are the nasties to do it. They are designed to do it, their primary attack grapples and pulls targets towards their pool of water. They are invisible in water and have a slew of resistances and immunities. Check them out.

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  1. Oni. My favorite Foe of all time is the Ogre Mage and the Oni is just that. They are big and nasty, can deal significant hits with their mighty glaive, and have magic to back that up. They can also shape shift to make themselves into pretty much whatever humanoid they want. They are not only awesome enemies, but they can easily be used as a recurring foe or BBEG.

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  1. Slaad. Imagine the Alien from the Alien movies. Now imagine a frog. Now imagine a vindictive mind bent on furthering their progeny. They plant egs within humanoids that eventually burst out of the chest killing the host… OR they give you a disease that slowly turns you into a Slaad that will likely try to impregnate a humanoid with a chest burster. Awesome, but gross.

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  1. Cranium Rats. A swarm of rats that get smarter them more their are. Their brains are showing. Their brains glow. Oh, and they can control your mind. That’s what they are. Cool.

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  1. The Scarecrow. Yeah sure it’s got vulnerability to fire, but this nasty can haunt your dreams. These scarecrow have a gaze that can send the mightiest character running in fear. Their also constructs which gives them a slew of immunities and resistances.

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  1. Bone Nage. Nagas on their own are pretty cool. However Nagas that have been mummified by Yuan-Ti and enslaved for all eternity to become temple guardians are cooler. These nasty undead have a number of powerful mind altering spells they can use to manipulate any battle. Give them a few Yuan-Ti helpers and your players are in some serious trouble.

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  1. Non-Player Characters. Hidden in the appendices of Volo’s Guide to Monsters there is a section dedicated to Non-Player characters. Many of these are fantastic and that section alone could easily populate a number of spots on this list. Check it out, you won’t be sorry.

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  1. Genies. I love foes that can take on many rolls, and genies do just that. There are a number of options in the Monster Manual and each of them are simultaneously dangerous in the front row and as a powerful magic user. The also come with fantastic lore and amazing sources of inspiration from fiction and folklore alike.

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1. Yuan-Ti Anathema. I really love Yuan-Ti as villains and I could include a number of their entries from the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide on this list however I have to give a special shout out  to the Anathema. This monstrosity is imposing with it’s huge size and numerous snake heads. It keeps many of the bonuses Yuan-TI usually posses as well as some powerful spells, namely Divine Word. The Anathema sees itself as a God and has the patience of one. Whittle your enemies down and see them driven before you with your Divine Word.

Review: Final Fantasy X

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Final Fantasy X and I have what you might call an “on again, off again” relationship.

It’s the first Final Fantasy game that I ever tried playing, but then I gave up after dying one too many times on the Mi’ihen Highroad. (It took an embarrassing length of time for me to figure out the Sphere Grid system for leveling up.)

Over the years, I became acquainted with some of the characters through the Kingdom Hearts series and the Dissidia games. I’d also watched Noah Antwiler’s lengthy review/rant about the game. And then, at long last, I purchased the PS4 remaster and played it again, for real, while streaming on Twitch.

The verdict? Overall, it was a fun experience, and I love Tidus and Yuna to pieces. But it’s not my favorite Final Fantasy title.

Let’s start with the story and characters. Tidus is living the dream as the star player of the Zanarkand Abes (he introduces himself in this manner a lot), for a sport called blitzball. But on the night of a big game, his city is attacked by a flying, Godzilla-style monster called “Sin,” and when he wakes up, he finds himself in an abandoned temple. The people who find him claim that his home doesn’t exist…because it was destroyed a thousand years ago.

So Tidus struggles to adjust to his new life in the world of Spira and figure out a way to get back to Zanarkand. Along the way, he meets up with Wakka, a fellow blitzball lover who recruits him for his underdog team, Yuna, a summoner who has embarked on a pilgrimage to defeat Sin, and Yuna’s guardians, Lulu and Kimarhi. They are later joined by Tidus’ mentor, a former guardian named Auron, and a girl named Rikku, who has been trying to stop summoners from completing the pilgrimage for her own personal reasons. And thus we have our party.

Eventually, Tidus becomes one of Yuna’s guardians as well, and through his new friends, he learns about Spira’s plight. Every ten years, they are attacked by Sin, and a summoner must journey to the ruins of Zanarkand to defeat it. After a period known as the Calm, Sin is reborn, and the cycle begins all over again. But is that really all there is to it? Could there be a permanent way to defeat Sin? And will Tidus ever get back to his Zanarkand?

So yeah, I adore Tidus. I know lots of gamers hate him. I understand why lots of gamers hate him. His voice sounds whiny sometimes- yes, sometimes– and he has his stupid moments. But I enjoy him so much, partly because of his flaws. When he got up and started yelling through a bullhorn that the Besaid Aurochs would win the Blitzball Cup, just after hearing an announcement that they’d never so much as won a game, I couldn’t stop laughing. Sorry, Tidus Haters. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on his likability.

Plus, his romance with Yuna is heartwarming. As a summoner, Yuna carries a heavy weight on her shoulders. Summoners in Spira dedicate their lives to defeating Sin, prepared to sacrifice anything and everything for their people. As such, it’s rare that Yuna or the people around her consider her own needs and desires. But Tidus is an outsider. He has no expectations for how Yuna should act or how she should serve him. He constantly asks Yuna what she wants to do and checks in with her to make sure that she’s okay. And Yuna is one of the first people to believe him when he says he’s from Zanarkand. They talk things out and listen to each other.

The music is just as beautiful as the love story, although this game is notable in that it’s the first main Final Fantasy title that did not have Nobuo Uematsu composing the whole score. He did some of the tracks; others were composed by Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. Many of the tracks are some variant of three gorgeous themes: “To Zanarkand,” “Suteki da ne,” and “Hymn of the Fayth.”

The turn-based battle system has a fantastic feature: the ability to switch out party members in the middle of combat. This especially comes in handy because many of the enemies are specifically designed with one character in mind. Auron is the heavy hitter. Lulu uses offensive magic. Yuna is the healer and can take out difficult enemies with the aeons that she summons. Wakka hits airborn enemies with his blitzball. This allows for a more balanced party, offering everyone a chance to level up at some point.

On the other hand, the lack of exploration in this game surprised me. I enjoyed having the chance to fly around the worlds in Final Fantasy VI and VII. In X, you don’t get to control an airship until the very end of the game, and you can only visit a specific set of locations on the map. Up until that point, you follow a linear path on your journey through Spira. While this wasn’t a deal breaker for me, I did miss at least having the option to explore.

Now, there is one aspect of the game that I hated: blitzball. It should have been fun. And I will fully admit that I might not have gotten full enjoyment out of it because I wasn’t playing it right or took the time to understand the ins and outs of the game. But the time that I spent playing in the tournament wasn’t fun.

Blitzball is Tidus’ favorite sport and the tournament is one of the biggest events in Spira. It’s a game played in a giant dome of water. The players swim through the dome and try to score points through each other’s goals.

But when you finally get to play, most of the moves happen automatically. You’re encouraged to set your characters to automatically move around in the dome, and then you watch the players swim around. You get a chance to try scoring or throwing the ball to another teammate, but mostly, it’s just watching the players move around the dome. I never really felt like I was in control as I tried to play. When Tidus and the party got cut off from the mini game due to story reasons, it was the greatest punishment of all time.

Final Fantasy X might not be a perfect game, but I did enjoy most of it. The characters and the battle system are very enjoyable. I cannot compare the PS4 remaster with the PS2 or PS3 versions because I didn’t spend enough time with either of them. However, the game looks beautiful, and the remastered soundtrack sounds great. I’d rate it 7.5 out of 10 blitzballs.

Purse and Pocket Games – Good Things Come in Small Packages

Waiting. The average person spends six months of their lives waiting – in queues, for service, and on hold. Some of us fidget, some doodle, some mess around on their phones. ALL of us wish we had a better way to pass the time.

With the rise in the popularity of filler games (usually designed specifically to ‘fill’ the gaps in gaming rounds or waiting for players) and efficient storage design, several publishers are hoping to help turn wait time into play time. Sometimes called ‘Purse’ or ‘Pocket’ games, these are small enough to be carried anywhere, usually can be confined to small playing spaces (like a pub table) and play in as few as five minutes.

From a recent poll at Analog Game Grrls, some Real Women of Gaming favorites:

P1
Hive Pocket
Use your insects to surround your opponent’s queen before they surround yours. This two player tile placement game takes about 10-15 mins to play and is both lighter and smaller than its full sized counterpart.

P2

Mint Works
Be careful not to mistake this tiny worker placement game for your favorite breath mints. Mint Works accommodates 1-4 players and takes about 20 mins to play. Mint Delivery (its fiendishly cool little brother) is currently available on Kickstater .

P5

Pack-O-Games
Actually a series of various games from publisher Perplext, these games fit in a box the size of a pack of gum! With games ranging from trick taking to area control to set collection, a handful will fit in the the smallest of bags and still provide lots of entertainment!

P7

Coloretto
Part set collection, part press your luck, Coloretto will have passerby’s stopping for a second look. Player count from 2-5 make this another great game for a variable group. Younger players will catch on quick, but more experienced players will still enjoy it.

P9

Red 7
The first rule of Red 7 is to play the highest card. But the rules of Red 7 are meant to be changed. Be the last one holding cards to win in this think-y little hand management game. Two to four players, with rounds that can last as few as five minutes.

Love letter

Love Letter
With just 16 cards, Love Letter packs a great punch for such a compact game. Risk, deduction, luck, and manipulation will triumph in this classic for 2-4 players.

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Fluxx
No two games of Fluxx are the same. Be the first to collect the items needed for the game winning condition but be aware, that condition can change with the laying of a new card. This popular little hand management game has several iterations, from Pirates to Anatomy. Game time is variable – sometimes five mins, sometimes close to a half hour.

P4

Pass the Pigs
This “dice” rolling game has been around for decades. The object – roll your plastic pigs into any one of several configurations to score points. First player to 100 wins. Its decidedly not strategic, just good hog tossing fun for a whole table full of players!

P3
Game of Trains
Sort your line of trains from descending to ascending order. This 2-4 player pattern building game has a little larger place space and play time than the rest of the list but was a big winner for overall strategy and art.

P8

Pairs
In this fun little press your luck game players are attempting to collect pairs through a hit or pass system. Hands are fast, and there are several art types to choose from. Two to eight players means this one can occupy everyone at the family table.

P10

Gloom
In Gloom you have one mission – make your characters suffer the most tragic fates before their untimely ends. With Edward Gorey-like art this will be a winner with horror fans. Long playing time at almost an hour, however, so maybe save this one for the midnight release line.

P12

Flip Hue
This set collection game for 3-6 seems simple, but with double sided cards, you’re only playing half the game! Games can take as little as five mins or as man as thirty, just watch out for that flip card.

Follow AnnaMaria Jackson-Phelps at Girls Play Games. And keep up with all the latest gamer news with Real Women of Gaming on Facebook and Twitter

Kickstarter Preview: The Primary by Mountaintop Games

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Do you have what it takes to win the nomination? The Primary is a strategy game for 1-4 players currently on Kickstarter. Travel the country, host rallies and fundraisers, and predict your opponents’ strategies in order to earn the most delegates and win the game! And – no politics involved!

This week I chatted with The Primary’s designer, Matt Quock, to talk game design, diversity, and the election process.

Why politics? Just an intriguing theme or motivated by the current climate?
I was definitely influenced by the last election cycle and the idea of a game based on the primary election process struck me as something potentially unique. I thought it could make for a neat mechanic how the different states vote at different points in time, as opposed to the general election. I understand politics can be a divisive topic and the theme is probably love/hate for a board game, but after developing the game, I couldn’t seem to find another theme that would match the mechanics as well.
How long have you been working on it?
I’ve been working on The Primary for just over a year. Somehow it seems both like a really long time ago and also like it was just yesterday. As my first “real” game design, it has been a tremendous learning experience – and especially on the business / Kickstarter side of things.

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There’s great diversity in the candidate cards – was inclusivity a goal while creating the game?
Yes, it was. I think it is important for everyone to be involved in the democratic process and make sure their voices are heard. That being said, I wanted to make sure a lot of different people were represented in the game. I also think the same idea of diversity is important with the board game industry and hopefully inclusive / accessible games will help get more people interested in the hobby.

Do you think The Primary would be a good way to teach/learn about the election process? 

I think it will be a good jumping-off point for people to learn about the primary election process. While The Primary doesn’t follow the exact real-life process, it shows how the primary election is unique and pretty different from the general election. It will be a good way for kids and adults alike to learn about how political parties elect their final nominees for President and the News cards also provide some glimpses of more complex political concepts that hopefully create some curiosity.
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With the growing number of people that play solo, the ELECT-O-BOT solo variant is an outstanding idea. Why did you develop a single player mode?
Honestly, a big factor was some of the board game design podcasts that I listen to. I heard a few interviews with solo game designers and the concept intrigued me. It was a unique design challenge, but it’s also definitely a trend that people look for in new games, like you mentioned. I’ve also played a few solo board games (whether a variant or a standalone design) and can appreciate their value.
What do you hope the average player takes away from the game? 
First and foremost, I hope players enjoy themselves playing The Primary. If it’s not fun for them, then there’s not much of point in playing a game 🙂 After that, it would be great if The Primary could be a way to get players curious and more interested in the political process.

The Primary has a week left on Kickstarter – back your copy today! The game is published by Mountaintop Games – keep up with their progress on twitter.

Follow AnnaMaria Jackson-Phelps at Girls Play Games. And keep up with all the latest gamer news with Real Women of Gaming on Facebook and Twitter