Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Random Pic II: Cribbage

Cribbage is one of those games where 2 people of equal ability very often come right down to the wire on scoring. And when you see a good nail-bitter ending, it's almost like both people are winning. Of course one usually wins slightly more.

Random Pic from the Minotaur Archive

Happiness is a good game of Alhambra.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Target Sleepwear: Checker Confusion

Grabbed from In the above ad, what exactly is going on?

Obviously, this is some type of sleepover. Which I can accept. Of course, no one plays checkers on the floor unless they are in elementary school. And the slightly sideways approach to the board looks ridiculous as well. Both of these factors I can let go because they obviously needed to position each model in a specific way to capture the pajamas, which are the focus of the ad. Suspension of belief, and all that.

But let's look closer at the checkers board. Computer…ENHANCE!

Neither of these people have ever played checkers in their life. Why is the model grabbing to move a black man when she is on the red side of the board? Perhaps she is removing the man BEFORE she jumps it with her red man…except that no one ever does or has done that particular shortcut in the history of checkers, for a fact.

In addition, there are 3 red men taken out of the game. This actually adds up correctly with what's on the board. Except for the fact that none of the black men have advanced to positions where they could have eliminated those red men. All the black men are in their starting positions, like they just started the game.

My only theory is that they are playing "Martian Checkers" and the 3 red men were eliminated via death ray. And then, perhaps the red player is beaming the black man up into the mother ship for further study. Which actually starts making the game sound pretty interesting.

This actually reminds me of James Ernest's Fightopia!, which I have been meaning to print the rules out for.

This is what makes Christmas shopping so hard.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dungeon Twister 2: Meet the Dungeon Crawlers

One thing I greatly admire about Dungeon Twister 2 is the choice of characters. It is evident that Chistophe Boelinger, the designer for the game, spent a great deal of time thinking about classes and abilities. The 8 players on your "team" go, for the most part, beyond the typical D&D party fodder you are used to seeing in these scenarios.

More like the Dirty Dozen, each character comes from radically divergent backgrounds…and finds themselves working as a team solely because that is the only path to survival.

Here are the players in our game:

Loves to dish out the punches!

1) The Colossus - This giant-sized character is the beefiest fighter in the bunch, with a combat score of 5. He is also the absolute slowest, with a movement of only 2. That means he can only move 2 squares per action point, and ensures if he begins the game on the starting line, he is almost certainly not going to get out of the arena before the end of the game.

The Colossus also has the very useful power of being able to bust through locked portcullises, hereafter referred to as GATES. This is great because often you want to start the Colossus in the middle of the board somewhere. And the gate breaking ability prevents your opponent from locking him up in a cell or something, depending on the layout of the room. Unfortunately, he can still find himself placed in a corner surrounded by pits. As Wesley Snipes is fond of saying: Colossuses can't jump…they still have the same vulnerabilities as most other characters regarding pits.

2) The Cleric - This is the dungeon-explorer's classic healer with a little fighting ability on the side. Combat value is 2, with a pretty decent movement of 4 as well. Clerics can fight, and they can also act similar to the doctor in Team Fortress. Run a guy down a corridor with the Cleric right behind, and he can heal you up right after you get knocked down. Unless you run into overwhelming odds, a character teamed up with the Cleric is pretty tough to kill. Seems to be good in conjunction with the Telepath.

3) The Telepath - On paper, the worst character in the game by far. Combat value is 0. Movement is 3. His "telepathic" power means he can command the opposing character in any hand to hand combat to play the combat card of his choice (not zero). This ability leads to 2 different tactics. He can sacrifice himself to pull a 6 out of someone's hand. Or he can automatically win a fight (this is hampered, of course, by his incredibly horrible combat value). Check out Wayne Reynold's awesome Telepath art on the right.

4) The Wizard - The classic wizard of any dungeon crawler. Combat Value of 1. Movement of 4. What I can never seem to remember during the game is the wizard posesses the power of levitation. He goes right over the top of pits! Unfortunately you have to remember that during the game. Maybe if the miniature was riding a flying carpet, things would be easier. He also knows how to operate the super-awesome Fireball Wand. If he can get this artifact into his hot little hands, the Wizard can use the Fireball Wand to obliterate (doesn't even leave a body!) another character in his line of sight. So much fun.

5) The Naga - My favorite! The Naga is the master of mobility. He has a Movement of 6. And a Combat Value of 2. He can slither right through arrow slits. In fact they should probably reverse things and call the arrow slits "snake holes" because I was doing a lot more slithering than I was ever doing arrow shooting. The Naga, at least in my games, has a tendency to become separated from the pack because of his superior scouting abilities…he is your go-to man to discover the contents of each tile so you'll then know how to move the rest of your guys. Luckily he is an expert at getting out of sticky situations.

Ready to run…err…slither like heck!

6) The Backstabber - The Backstabber has lock-picking powers like any thief, but can also gain a bonus to combat if attacking someone from the rear who is already engaged in combat. In my first impressions, this is kinda tricky to pull off, what with the maze-like corridors and all. Usually there is a pit in the way at least, so the Rope can be helpful. Like the Colossus, you want the Backstabber up somewhere she can help other characters escape from cell predicaments and provide backup against rushes.

7) The Mechanork - Somehow a Mekboy from the world of Warhammer 40K has teleported into Dungeon Twister. He has a combat value of 2 and a movement of 3 on account of his arthritic knees. But he does know how to make the rooms twist the OPPOSITE way they are intended to go. This is much more useful than it first appears!

8) The Banshee - The most "terrifying" of characters. The Banshee has a combat value of 1. And a movement of 4. Somehow, the undead can move faster than the Mechanork…and judging from the model this guy has been decaying for a while! He can scream very loudly at someone for 2 action points. His target then become annoyed/disgusted and subsequently moves 1 space in the opposite direction from him. It CAN push characters into pits…which turns an otherwise lame ability into total awesomeness! I wonder how repulsive a scream has to be to force someone to jump into a pit full of grinding gears?

Of these operators, the cleric, wizard and mekanork are the only ones carried over from the original game. All others are new and original creations, modified in various ways from the original game's crew.

Goblin: This is obviously the character that would eventually become the Telepath. They are both weedy, cowardly individuals. The Goblin's only ability was passive…if he made it out of the Dungeon he was worth 2 VP instead of 1. The Telepath on the other hand has his weird combat ability to help do something during the actual game.

Thief: The original Thief could both pick locks and temporarily disarm pit traps. The new Backstabber is a similar rogue, but can only pick locks. She does gain a very useful combat advantage.

the Wall-Walker from the original rulebook

Wall-Walker: Dungeon Twister 1 had a strange fellow called the "Wall-Walker". Not a wizard, he instead had an innate ability to walk through walls and appear out the other side. Strangely enough, he could not walk through gates. The Naga carries the same sort of maneuverability on a more limited scope, thanks to the invention of arrow slits (snake holes), and even gets a bonus on movement.

Troll/Warrior: The Colossus. The Colossus has a big combat score like the troll, with the gate-busting ability of the Warrior.

Banshee: completely original, as far as I can tell. No other creature even in the previous Dungeon Twister expansions could scream quite like that. Very few abilities cost the astounding price…2 AP…that this ability does so from the designer's standpoint it must be pretty powerful.

Next post I will jump into some of the mechanics of the game.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dungeon Twister 2: Prison: The Loser

Dungeon Twister 2: Prison.

To begin a journey, you must first take the first step. But even before you take that first step, you have to find a comfortable pair of shoes. This post is about finding those shoes.

Are they comfortable? I don't know yet.

Let me kick back on the therapy couch and just let everything out.

For some reason, which I cannot fully explain, I am absolutely no good at these types of games. I understand what I'm supposed to do. I get the same number of actions/turns as everyone else. It's totally fair. Yet I just can't do it. I squander my opportunities somehow, leaving my board wide open to easy pickings.

This extends to every "miniature" game I have ever played…even the ones without miniatures. The common characteristic seems to involve moving many playing pieces together in a team-like fashion. And its definitely not a matter of "needs more practice" because I have practiced.

During a good stretch of my younger years, I was what they call now a "mono" gamer. I had one game system I devoted my entire mental energy/gaming budget on. And that was Warhammer 40K. In my entire career of playing…game after game, basement after basement, I won maybe 2 battles. And on the other side of the scales maybe lost 40, 50 times, I don't know how many times I played. But I kept losing, and I never got any better. I have hundreds of miniatures.

And this lackluster performance continued into the smaller Games Workshop games like Blood Bowl, Necromunda and Mordheim.

I still play Blood Bowl today, mostly in the electronic form. And I still lose, just as much. That's about 20 years of solid losing experience.

And you know what, I still love playing. The part of me that gets upset at losing was burned away long ago in a crucible of infinite defeat at the hands of a dedicated Space Wolves player.

Of the Games Workshop games in my databanks, the closest parallel to Dungeon Twister is Blood Bowl. Despite the lack of a ball, the argument can be easily made Dungeon Twister is at its heart a sports game. Your "team" works together to achieve the two different game-winning objectives: to kill/knock-out opposing players and to escape the Dungeon Twister field. Each completed objective earns you 1 victory point, and the first player to score 5 points wins.

Much like Blood Bowl, the careful Dungeon Twister player has to cover the entire field, because players are constantly looking for a quick avenue past your defenses into the end zone/freedom.

Unlike Blood Bowl, the "playing field" is not a dirt pitch but instead an awesome Deathtrap-style dungeon complete with pits, arrow slits, locked gates, rotating rooms and labyrinthine corridors. The actual path to the end zone is never very clear, and usually involves quite a bit of team work. There is one rope, one key, one bow/arrow set, etc. allocated to each side and only one object can be held at one time by any character.

The typical Dungeon Twister room

Obstacles tend to stack up in such a way that no single player can get through on their own. For instance: one character has to operate the rotating room mechanism for another player, who then uses the newly open corridor in front of him to run along and crawl across a pit using his rope. Hopefully someone has already unlocked the gate on the other side of the pit. There's a lot of teamwork, and a lot of carefully figuring things out.

My dad, upon seeing the game, immediately wondered if "Prison" referred to the level of fun or the game length. Indeed, one of the problems I am having with this game is the length. Because if neither player knows what they are doing and there isn't any pressure to finish, the game can go on indefinitely.

I can understand tactics. I can understand using my Backstabber to sneak up on a Colossus who my Cleric is fighting. But there is inevitably a pit in the way, and the rope is on the wrong side of the board. And my Naga (who is the speediest and most maneuverable of characters by far) is already halfway to freedom…screw the rest of these poor suckers.

I leave you now with Dungeon Twister 2, in the native French.

My next installment will cover the unique character selection of this game.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

7 Wonders for 7 Players

Most board/card games cap out at about 4-5 players, and very rarely 6 players.

And here's the thing…the ones that say 6 players rarely play with 6 players in a a FUN way. Every additional player invariably increases down time, increases the amount of stuff that happens OUTSIDE your turn, and increases the variability (chaos) of the game in general.

In a game of conquest, someone might be attacked twice before they take their turn.

In an economic game, there might be 5 trading sessions, or buying sessions. 5 decision-making processes will have to make it to completion before you get to do your stupid little action again. Hooray.

So 6 player games, in general, are no good. In most situations, if you are sitting around the house with 6 or 7 people, you are splitting off to play 2 different games. It's the sane choice.

7 Wonders takes a theme, empire-building and makes it fun for 7 players.

I had heard a bit of buzz on Board Game Geek about the game but didn't really devote very much brain energy about it until I found myself actually playing it. Then I saw what people were talking about.

7 Wonders has war. It has building improvements. It has trading and empire building. But all the action happens simultaneously so there is zero down time.

Zero down time in a 7 player game. You are always thinking and always acting, and the only drag comes when someone is unsure of the card they want to take. But being the last person left holding your hand is a pretty big motivator, as you feel the burning stares of 6 other people upon your sweating brow. I don't think analysis paralysis here is really that big of a deal.

Would I want to play 7 Wonders ALL NIGHT LONG with the same group of 7 people? Probably not. In fact, the very simplistic nature of the game that makes it so speedy can turn around and start to drag you down game after game.

A powerful military is going to score you 18 points maximum, no matter how good it is. A weak or even non-existant military is going to score you -6 points at the very minimum. Science is a fantastic multiplier of points, well-worth it if you get more than a few green cards. Blue cards give you huge points, and chain really well if you can get the small ones early in the game. They all end up being just another number to count up at the end of the game.

But with the variety in card selection in hand, I would say the game is good for at least 2 or 3 rounds a night. And that's not even very long! The interaction between players is even good, since you are "drafting" from common hands to get your buildings. Your opponent wants to thwart you as much as possible, while you want to deny the winning card to the opponent YOU are passing to.

I only had a chance to play 7 Wonders with a large group, but by the way the game is structured I can see it is probably is just as good with smaller numbers of people. You only ever interact with the people to the left and right of you, so at 3 players the passing, trading, and warring must indeed by a tightly wound little engine.

And here's another great bit about playing with 7 people…in 7 wonders, you don't have to reach anything in the center of a board. We played on a HUGE table, two banquet-size folding tables stuck together, and we all had ample room to lay all the cards of our empire out as lazily as we wanted to. There wasn't a draw deck we had to all be reaching for. There is only a pile of tokens, and in our case we made two piles so that everyone could get the ones they needed.

Here's what the game looks like on a small table:

A little cramped. But here's the thing…you still know who's stuff is what. Everything has a common orientation and you never tap or manipulate your cards once they're laid down. All pieces are static, except for the money, war, and debt tokens in the middle of your own player board.

How old do you have to be to understand 7 Wonders? This is going to be something I hope to find out in the near future. My guess is…not very old. There's some simple addition and subtraction but not a lot of reading and not a lot of confusing actions during your turn. And the game goes so fast there's little chance of people getting bored. I'm going to try it with a 7-year-old, because that's what I got. But 7 years sounds about right for 7 Wonders, from a purely numerological standpoint, so we will see.

If you haven't yet, check out 7 Wonders. And if you are a hard-core 7 Wonders veteran, go ahead and tell me how you got burned out…because I can see that happening too. Right now, though, I'm really excited.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Budget Pack Analysis I

My lunch hour was spent at the local gaming shop. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did run into my old nemsis, The Deal.

Probably a pretty good deal for the shop, these "Deals" were 3-packs of previously opened cards of various rarities offered up for the bargain price of $1. You are guaranteed a rare, from my understanding.

So I felt I had to take one for science, as always.

Here is what $1 got me:

1) Pursuit of Flight

Pursuit of Flight bestows on your creature the same abilities as Goblin Balloon Brigade or Stream Hopper, and with a snazzy +2/+2 bonus in addition. Would be much better if the ability boosted power and defense as well. And if it had flash. Then you'd have a card that really rammed victory down people's throats. Without those two upgrades, this is going to be a tough sell when the next deck building palooza begins.

2) Trained Caracal

Seems like a good creature for the casting cost. But I might be out of the loop on that. I suppose they are about the same as Tundra Wolves come to think about it. And I don't think Tundra Wolves is used much anymore for anything.

3) Finally the budget rare of the pack…Pallisade Giant.

I got mildly excited about Pallisade Giant to begin with. When you see a big creature like this, the first instinct is always to find some way to wedge it into your EDH deck. But I tempered that enthusiasm quickly. There are WAY better creatures than this at 6 casting cost, especially stuff like Sun Titan.

If only there was a way to make him indestructible.

Okay, with the possibility of Darksteel Plate on the table, Pallisade Giant might, just MIGHT be a candidate for my Zedru EDH deck. It's already kinda laid back and sort of a prison setup…but I don't know how much I like that. Will have to sleep on it!

Despite the slim pickings in this card selection, I feel like I got my money's worth. It's been years since I've even opened a booster pack, and I got exactly the same range of "pickings" there for 4X the cost.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To the Hobbits and Back Again

For briefly a second or so, the breaking news of the day was that a judge had ruled "Age of the Hobbits" too similar in its use of Hobbits to the current movie rights holders…Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, Saul Zaentz, the Tolkien estate and whoever else.

For those familiar with the fantasy genre, the move should probably come as no surprise. While the network of rights regarding the Lord of the Rings intellectual property has been divided many, many times (check out the list of licensed board games), it is certainly without a doubt that the term "Hobbit" belonged within the Tolkien umbrella, and was pretty aggressively defended from the very beginning. In 1976, 2 years before I was born and back when Tolkien still walked this Earth, Gary Gygax knew he had a pretty good deal going with AD&D. But the original Monster Manual, while it may reference elves, dragons and orcs; lists only the term "halfling" as the name of the beardless, curly-headed furry-footed creature shorter than a man who's favorite meal is second breakfast.

And this is pretty consistent. I know in the "Wizardry" game franchise one of the races is "Hobbit" but I'm pretty sure Sir-Tech really just got extremely lucky on that one. I've done a couple web searches and the term has now been effectively scrubbed from just about all of their sources. If you find one, let me know.

I'm currently reading The Hobbit to my 7-year-old son. We've made it out of the Shire, and are currently wondering what Bilbo is going to do about the Trolls. His choices, offered up by Tolkien, are:

1) run back and tell the rest of the party
2) stab the trolls to death and take their mutton
3) pickpocket their money bags while they are distracted

I do remember what choice Bilbo eventually picks, and the very unexpected way his choice is interrupted. But the fact that these are the choices Bilbo selects for himself illustrates just how different the young Bilbo was versus his later nephew Frodo. In particular the role of "burglar" places The Hobbit firmly within the trope of the traditional dungeon crawler.

To my son, these are all strange new things…in fact I had to explain to him what exactly a dwarf was when Bilbo's house started to get invaded. Which is why I pulled out the 'ol Monster Manual, of course. I'm sure this will continue as the story goes on, until the foundation of his fantasy knowledge is finally established and we can move on to other things. And then he can watch Snow White.

Really looking forward to reading the book again, as I'm sure there will be plenty I do not remember whatsoever. The fact that Gandalf found the Secret Map inside the lair of a necromancer was news to me, and I'm excited to see if this will show up in the movie. I imagine it must, since they are probably using every second of book to stretch the story out over the THREE movies.

Anyway, if you have little kids around, make sure you read to them. Because they aren't going to learn about this stuff until someone teaches them. You don't want anyone walking around, thinking Blizzard invented Dark Elves or something. What are the other kids going to think in school?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tsuro: The Path to a Game

Hearing Tsuro mentioned on Tom Vasel's 2012 top games list (actually the people's choice list) got me thinking about the game again. And despite Tom's quick dismissal, there is some meat on Tsuro's bones for the enterprising strategist to pick through like some kind of board gaming hyena.

First, I should probably mention that there is indeed some history behind this game. Boardgamegeek mentions the "squiggle" game was patented back in 1979. And to be honest, this is an incredibly simple mechanic at the heart of Tsuro.

On the plus side, "linking lines together" is pretty easy to explain to just about anyone. The first time I explained the rules to this game, it took less than 5 minutes.

The Grand Tsuro F.A.Q.

1) How many tiles do I get?

Three. Begin your turn by placing a tile and end it by drawing a fresh tile from the supply.

2) Where can I place a tile?

You can only place your tile in one spot, directly ahead of your dragonstone so that your path is extended.

3) How do I move my piece?

After you place your tile, your dragonstone is moved to follow the path in front of it as far as possible, taking it off the board if the path extends that far.

4) How do I win?

The last person with their dragonstone on the board is the winner. As the game progresses and the board fills up with tiles, it will become quite impossible to avoid sliding down a path and off the board.

5) What happens if I run out of tiles?

The last tile at the bottom of the deck is the dragon tile. The person who takes the dragon tile will be the first person to get tiles when a new supply opens up. A new tile supply is created when a player is taken out, their hand becomes the new tile supply.

The game scales from 2 players all the way up to 8 players.  8 players is a chaotic, random down-and-dirty slug-out where the one remaining at the end is often the one that managed to stay the heck away from everyone else the longest. Even at 4 and 5, there is a lot happening each time around and it is not uncommon for 2 or 3 unlucky people to find themselves slammed together by a 4th player who just happens to be in the right place at the right time.

With just two players, Tsuro morphs into something else entirely.

In a way, the game reminds me of the light cycle racers from Tron. Opening strategy is obviously to stay away from each other and try to cut out a larger territory to move in. Once the board starts to fill up, how you laid the tiles behind you means the difference between life and death. More than once I've filled my area with tiles, came in close to my opponent, only to swerve back in on my path and fly across the board to another open area.

My 7-year-old son came up with a piece of low animal cunning I never would have thought about on my own. My father-in-law absent-mindedly started his dragonstone off in the corner of the board. My son plopped his piece down right next to him, and then proceeded to run the poor man's piece off the board using his very first tile. So lesson 1 is definitely "spread the starting pieces out a little bit."

On the box, the Tsuro people (apparently some place called Calliope Games) suggest the game lasts approx. 15 minutes.

I would agree with this assessment, the games are indeed very short. They start out slow, build to a finger-biting conclusion, and then leave you wanting to play again. I haven't played the new Tsuro of the Seas yet, but the increased amount of time it supposedly takes to play is a bit of a turn off.

If you've had different experiences with Tsuro, go ahead and let me know. I'm always interested other opinions.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pret-a-Porter: How to Run a Business into the Ground

I've run through Pret-a-Porter a few times now. Enough to generate an opinion on the topic. Enough to understand the rules, and maybe cook up a little of the underlying strategy. Thankfully, constant failure can often be the best educator.

The lessons I received were comprehensive.

At its black venomous heart, Pret-a-Porter models the successful running of a business. And knowing the backstory of the game, it's easy to understand why.

You could be selling lemonade, or widgets, or whatever. The basic "feel" remains the same…you invest in a product, buy raw materials, manufacture said product and then sell it to potential customers. One of the places the uniqueness of fashion shows through is the design process…each product you show is its own prototype. After you have sold the line you have slaved over, you get to begin back at square one next season with brand new untested and unrealized designs.

Otherwise, the "fashion show" at the end of every quarter could easily be a trade show of any kind, with popularity measured by how well your product tests with the distributors and journalists swilling free drinks in the pits beyond the stage.

And if you like that kind of thing, and I'm starting to think I do, Pret-a-Porter is right up your alley.

Back in elementary school, I ran lemonade stands off the classroom computer like a champ. Or, at least, I felt like a champ. Chances are other kids were probably raking in a little better money over on their screens.

Unlike those black and green screened businesses of yore, however, Pret-a-Porter has no mercy. No mercy whatsoever.

If you don't follow a business plan and keep things tight through the process, this game will eat you alive and make a lampshade out of your skin. And perhaps there again the fashion industry finds a way to peek through.

If you spend too much on fabric, or hire too many employees, or invest in too much office space…you will be screwed for the rest of the game, no joke. There's no "catch up" mechanism or way to slow down a "runaway" leader. While your pals keep cranking up the profits on their larger and larger vintage and boho collections, you are going to be dodging creditors and racking up an impressive history of poor borrowing practices.

At the end of my last game, the biggest revue stream I had going was from interior design work at a furniture store. A furniture store!!!

Here's what I can tell you of the strategy, from carefully noting what I did and then reverse-engineering the exact opposite actions.

For starters, always remember margins are SLIM! The fabric you need to complete any particular design is very close to the amount you end up selling the design for. Don't try to just sell clothes and think the big payout you get at the end of the fashion show month is anything special. It is probably very close to what you started with at the beginning of the prep months, assuming you didn't piss any of it away on stupid stuff…in which case you probably have even less.

What you have to do is go after "stars". At each fashion show, your collection is compared to other players in a number of categories depending on the location. Quality, trendiness, public relations, quantity of designs, can all determine how the buyers react to your clothing line. 1st and 2nd place are going to earn some stars. 3rd place almost never earns anything.

3 accumulated stars, for instance, mean your design is going to earn 3,000 more Pret-a-bucks from the buyers because of the extra demand for that particular line. Which might make all the difference.

"Might" is a very important distinction, because what you also need to know is 3,000 bucks by itself is chump change. It's the same you might spend on maintenance for a single employee.

What you really have to do is combine these stars with QUANTITY of designs. If you are going to earn a lot of stars this round, you want to make sure you have a huge fashion line coming down the runway at the exact same time. Because the "stars" bonus applies for each design, it multiplies up quickly to a serious sum. Do this and you finally find that sweet sweet tipping point. Your business stops grinding away at bare profitability and booms up to a higher plane of money making.

With more profits, you can buy more material, complete more designs and keep the ball rolling all the way to the top.

Here are my helpful tips:

1. Get a sales agent early in the game to cut down on material costs. This is where most of your money goes each turn, and how your designs are completed. If you can squeeze just a little savings out of the process every turn, its going to equal a big difference in the long run.

2. Find a way to develop more designs. By default you can assign a worker to "gather" a single design each preparation phase (there are 2 between each fashion show). As the game moves along, workers become more and more valuable and it helps greatly to buy a building or an employee who can come up with designs off the usual track. Then you can use your workers for buying materials, finding even more designs, or just help out where needed to smooth the process along.

3. Finally, if you need to do so, take out a loan! There is nothing wrong with taking out credit at reasonable interest rates if you can put the money to good use expanding a fashion line. Bad uses of credit mostly come from borrowing money to pay maintenance costs. This is still better than taking out a higher-interest "emergency loan" later in the turn, but still generally is a sign your business is in the middle of a slow transformation from dependable revenue generator to haunted sleigh ride of destitution.

4. Maintenance costs can be killer. Especially early in the game, scooping up a building or employee better be worth the investment. A small salary or upkeep cost each turn saps your cash reserves and keeps you treading water or below. There is nothing worse than owning a building you can't use because you can't spare the money because you are spending too much money on maintenance costs each turn. And there is no bulldozer or arson option. Unlike employees who can be let go (with a severance package) poor building choices remain with you, draining your resources like a vampire, until the end of time.

With all said and done, I am looking forward to my next game. Hopefully this blog post will serve as a helpful player aid when that day finally arrives. Or I can just sputter around, throwing money in every direction. Because my previous experience seems to indicate this can be fun too. Furniture store and beret factory, here I come!