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Brand New Strategy Game: Makiavelia


#1

Hello :slight_smile:

I’d like to proudly introduce my new game Makiavelia, a political strategy card game!

Check out this video trailer on YouTube.

Makiavelia is a card game for 4 to 10 players, where each are leaders competing for power. You’ll use mischievous influence cards, powerful army cards, game-changing building cards and exciting strategy cards as means to your ends. Bribes, treason, coup, you’ll get everything you expect from a political and strategy game, with guaranteed excitement!

Players will play 7 rounds and at the end of each round the player who seized the crown will get 5 reputation points.But in Makiavelia you cannot stand alone and you will form teams we call “regimes”. When a team seizes the crown, the leader will receive the reputation points and will be expected to share those with his Lieutenants or team members.

That’s where things get spicy: it’s never a good deal for Lieutenants to remain in the regime for ever. So you cannot trust them. In Makiavelia you cannot trust anyone anyone in fact!

Do you think you got what it takes to be leader? Are you ready to loose all your friendships for power? Well find out more on www.makiavelia.com and like the Makiavelia Facebook page too.

The game is now going to be issued in limited edition (1000 copies) available on Indiegogo. Place your order before 12 September and you’ll get a copy of the game by November.

I’d also love to get your feedback, on the ad, website, campaign and everything :slight_smile: I’m obviously super excited with this project as I put 4 years of work into it and your support would mean a lot to me :heart_eyes:


#2

Here are a few things that spring to mind. Please take them in the supportive, constructive spirit in which they’re intended.

  • asking for feedback on your campaign after it’s launched and after you’ve already received promises of payment from your first few backers is a real no-no. This should have been done before you went live.
  • your game isn’t listed on BoardGameGeek. This is almost an essential thing these days.
  • as for the game, it looks very much like a “take that” card game to me. Some people might love that but it’s not a genre that appeals much to me personally. I’m mainly saying that as that’s the impression that I got from the website, your description, and the handful of example cards in the artwork. If it’s not the right impression then perhaps some more work needs to go into clarifying what it is.
  • what existing games is it similar to? What games do you like to play yourself? What are your influences as a designer? You mention mechanics vaguely on your Indiegogo page but don’t give any details that we can hang on to as a reference point.
  • on the website, there’s little to no description of the actual gameplay mechanics, or any footage of real people playing a real game with real components, which is going to raise red flags. The animation is very cute, but it doesn’t actually tell me how the game plays. I see that there’s more on the Indiegogo page - why’s it not on the website?
  • the “poison” card is a bit of a bad sign, unfortunately: “Poison remains in play until the end of 1807 [which, from what I can infer, is the end of the game or at least very nearly]. Target player must discard 1 card on each discard step or lose the game” (emphasis added). Does this mean that there’s player elimination in a game lasting up to 70 minutes? Generally that’s a design choice that many designers try to avoid as being out and having to wait an hour for the game to finish is usually thought of as “not much fun”.
  • have you playtested this game with people other than your friends? Have you done blind playtests (i.e. dump the box on a table in front of a group of strangers and then walk away, letting them figure it out completely by themselves)? At all player counts (4-10 is quite some range), at least 5-10 times at each? Have you taken the harsh feedback and made your game better as a result? If so, then say so proudly on your website and Indiegogo page! If not, then consider doing so.
  • I watched the video on how to set up the game, but there’s little to no detail on how the game actually plays. Presumably there’s more videos coming out? Why did you go live without completing the set first?
  • with the greatest of respect to Tom, Prem and Nicole, who I’m sure are lovely folks, I don’t recognise them as respected board game reviewers. Unfortunately the impression I’m left with is “why should I give a darn about their opinions? Where’s the review from someone I recognise?”. Have you sent review copies to people who do that sort of thing on a (at least) semi-professional basis?
  • what is it about the leaders that makes them formidable? All I can see of them on the website is a portrait and nothing to get me invested in their characters.
  • there were a number of inconsistencies between the website and the Indiegogo page (e.g. number of players, leader card design). I looked at the website first and had a number of design concerns that seem to have been addressed in the examples on the Indiegogo page. Keep them consistent!
  • you say that you’re going to be working with a local producer in Thailand to manufacture the game. Have you thought about the distribution implications of how you’re going to be able to fulfil shipment in the US, EU, Australia, etc.? Have you got any specific distribution partners lined up?
  • your production contains a board, custom dice, cards, tokens and a sand-timer. How about an inlay? The design is going to go through a lot of iterations, and you will need months worth of proofing work to get the printing and production right. It will probably take several iterations. I think you are seriously underestimating the time you need to produce this game. Christmas 2019 would be a more realistic target, and judging by other Kickstarters that I’ve backed in the past, possibly even beyond that.
  • I’ve never heard of “Other Games Publishing” before. Who are they? Is it you? If so, have you considered approaching an established publisher with your design instead? Attempting to manage the design, development, publication, promotion and distribution of your product all by yourself is going to lead to a lot of headaches.

These were things that were just not clear to me from the website and the campaign. I’m letting you know as they’re certainly things that I look for in a crowd-funded board game campaign, whether it’s on Kickstarter or Indiegogo or whatever, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

(I must admit I will probably not reply to this thread again - any more and I might start charging consultancy fees :wink: )


#3

Wow @michaelg I’ve got to say thanks for the amount of feedback you’ve provided. That’s really kind.

Please don’t. That’s enough blows taken for now :stuck_out_tongue:

Even though you may not reply, I will provide a response:

I’m not a crowd-funding expert, I’ll admit that. I’ve gotten feedback from people around me who support me with my project, but didn’t think it would be wise to post it on a public forum before launching. Taking notes for future reference.

You’re right, and I’m planning to post something over there ASAP.

Great feedback. The mechanics doesn’t seem at all like that of Take That from what I read about that game. I should then clarify the game mechanics and as you stated below, game-play.

Honestly I’m not a hard core board game player. My drive to create a game is much stronger than to play. I really enjoy developing mechanics and design and even going through the production process than to play games. I also try to steer away from imitating game mechanics from other games, even though I would inevitably end up doing so, even by sheer luck. Yet, games that influenced me the most must have been Risk, Diplomacy and Magic the Gathering. However, I always lacked several aspects I wanted to reinforce in Makiavelia, namely:

  1. Risk (original versions) is a pretty brutal game of dice and there’s not much strategy to it. I wanted something with more theme and more complexity in the availability of actions and strategies.
  2. Diplomacy is super interesting in terms of collaboration and betrayal. However, as with many area control games, the more area you control, the greater your odds of winning, and the game inevitably spirals toward the victory of the stronger player. I wanted to avoid that with a mechanic that would allow players to gain victory points historically throughout the game play and where the odds of turning over the game are still high by the end of the game.
  3. Another aspect of Diplomacy I was missing, is the internal structure of politics. I’ve studied imperialism among other subjects back in university and I saw how empires became weaker as they grew larger. Emperors never control all of the empire but depend on a sensitive network of internal check and balances with remote lieutenants. So I wanted to bring this about in Makiavelia. The mechanics is designed so that one has very little chances to win alone, and therefore must build teams (regimes) and yet inside these regimes, there’s an internal tension always prevailing and regimes are always susceptible to collapse.
  4. I always loved deck building in MGT, but as we all know, richer players have access to better cards. So here I wanted to have cards that can be combined to offer a series of possible strategies and scenarios.
  5. Many games are number heavy, one of them as an example, is Eldritch Horror. I so dislike having to +3 and -2 and cast 5 and 6 and maybe 4s because I have another card etc. My preference is that numbers should not stand in the way of mechanics, so the strength and combat mechanics are made super simple to keep these numbers away. And players can focus on the plot.

You’re right! I am afraid that by revealing too much, the excitement and surprise would wear off. My experience is people tend to scare away from rules and so they like to just play. I thought perhaps showing too much mechanic would scare this population away? But I think you’re right, it deserves to show more about mechanics. I have some video tutorials coming up and perhaps I’ll simply post the PDF rule book?

Interesting you bring this up, this card was already on my radar for this very reason :slight_smile: In fact it’s the only card that has this mention of “lost the game” because another aspect of the mechanics is that players never are out of the game until the very end always have a chance to form a regime and turn the game around. Effectively this card is just a tax on hand size, and I’ve never seen yet anyone losing the game even with two poison cards on them. For good measures, I’ll probably remove that. I’m quite confident however with the other cards, which brings us to the next point.

Gosh! Testing the game. I don’t know about other game developers out there, but testing the game for me was by far the most difficult part of the development. First, I live in Bangkok where the board game market has only begun few years back. Second, it’s just difficult to get people to come at the same place at the same time. Third, I’ve used board game cafés, but there was very little effort made to market it, and so the turn up was often too low. Fourth, people are put off by “testing”. It’s more bad event management though.
Yet I managed to get it tested with friends and non-friends at all player counts. I must say that the friends category gave the best feedback. And I’ve taken serious feedback from them. The game has gone through 16 iterations over 4 years, it’s been a roller coaster, almost gave up at some point, but then I pushed it through. In the last sessions I did a few months ago, testes said the game was great and couldn’t wait to play again. We had few details to change, such as improving GUI and few weights adjustments.
No, I’ve never done a blind play test. I did try, but then people look at me with eyes saying “no way you’re not gonna ask us to figure it out! you’re the game designer so you gonna tell us how to play your game”. Given the scarcity of play testers, I couldn’t say no to these puppy eyes.

Yes, more videos coming up. Why aren’t all ready? Because I takes more time to make them than I had anticipated.

I want to do that by sending them a finished product. Producing prototypes is too costly (50 prototypes would cost me as much as 1000 actual finished products).

Nada. It’s just fun and design.

A local manufacturer to be exact. I produce myself (answering your question below, I am Othergames, just a brand in case things would go beyond Makiavelia). Yes I’m beginning to approach distributors, but right now I’m producing a limited edition of 1000 copies. This project is primarily aiming at finalizing Makiavelia. It’s my baby and I want it to come to life. Honestly if I could produce 100 copies I would do it, but given the cost of production, 1000 is the MOQ and producing less doesn’t make any financial sense. Is this going to grow with more editions and more games? Maybe, but that’s down the line.

No inlay. With the prototype in hand, it didn’t seem necessary. Everything fits nicely. As for the production time, well if the manufacturer says 1 month, then I take his word. But I’ll bring this up to him and see what he has to say. Thanks for the heads up.

Yes that’s me. I want to go through the headache. I want to experience the whole thing from design to finish. I’ve worked in record manufacturing in the past and so I have a good idea of the overall production process. But I am yet to discover the details related to board games. It’s a tough choice, but I don’t think I would he happy letting this in someone else’s hands (even a trusted producer).

Again, thanks a ton for your feedback :slight_smile:


#4

This really should be in Shameless Self-Promotion since this is clearly promoting your own project. As it is, I’ve moved it to THE PURCHASE CHAMBER.

I’ve done this so it doesn’t get flagged again as spam, and mods can’t put things into individual topics, just categories (I can’t put it in SSP because of the way the forum works, you have my apologies).

We want developers here! It’s just that there is a place for this. I know you’re new here, and the forums can be a little hard to sort out. I really love your enthusiasm, and love for your work. It looks like an awesome game! I’m not trying to make you feel chastised, but we try to focus on community.

Also, you’ll probably get more clicks in THE PURCHASE CHAMBER anyway.


#5

(Also props to @michaelg for a great analysis and feedback :clap::clap::clap:)


#6

I know I said I wouldn’t, but I’m just jumping in again to respond to this specific point as I think my original remark perhaps was a little misleading and may have been misunderstood, so deserves clarification.

It’s also very likely to lead to some nasty surprises later down the line if it’s ignored.

The question about distribution was asked with respect to the shipping and customs costs for backers, rather than anything else. As a backer I want to be reassured that I’m not going to be stung with an exorbitant shipping charge or given a nasty surprise when it gets held up at customs and I get a letter saying I’m liable for the VAT plus a handling fee. However, given the scale of your operation, I think that it will be fulfilment centres rather than a distributor that you need.

I notice that there’s no estimate of shipping costs to any destination. This will either bite you or your backers (or, most likely, both) in the bum later on. A lot of potential backers already know this of course, and unless you do something to address this deficiency - properly, that is, not just pulling a pie-in-the-sky number out of thin air - they will simply not go anywhere near your project.

I am not an expert in this field at all, but here are a lot of articles dedicated to the process of shipping and customs for crowd-funded board games from someone who is - Jamey Stegmaier of of Stonemaier Games. There are some very important lessons for you contained within.

This is one of those articles, addressing some of the challenges of shipping to backers located within the EU, and I quote from it now:

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I’m a backer in a $40 pledge level in Spain, my home country, which is representative of European Union laws. As you are a nice guy, you ask me for $10 extra for shipping and you subsidize the other $10, and send the package with a declared value of $50 (what I actually paid for it).

Then, this is what will happen when you ship my reward to me. First, the package will be stopped at customs, entailing a delay of a few days to a week. Second, two charges will then be levied – VAT (21%, or $10.5) and a fixed administrative charge (around $23 as of today). And third, when the mailman shows up at my door with the package (usually with no previous notice), I will be expected to pay both charges (around $34).

So the $40 reward level for which I already paid $50 back in the day ends up costing me about $84, and that’s with you taking a significant hit on your profits with the $10 discount. Conversely, had the package been shipped from within the EU, it would have already cleared customs and VAT at the port of entry, and I would not have had to pay anything other than the original pledge.

I really, really, really do not wish for you to learn this the hard way.


#7

I will say right now that a lot of people are going to have no interest if they cannot read at least a prototype of the rulebook before pledging. Most people want to have some idea of how a game plays. Videos do help, but there are people (like myself) who want to delve into the rules to give themselves an idea of how the game works, how well thought out it is, etc.


#8

I can’t thank you enough @michaelg :slight_smile:

So there are already costs associated to transports in basically 3 regions, (Americas, Europe & Australia, Asia) with respective transport costs of 15, 12 and 10 USD each, already embedded on the Indiegogo perk payment. However, I should perhaps state them in writing no the description.

As for the import taxes, I’ve looked into it, admittedly cursively. In Western Europe, like France, the import tax applies to values above 45 EUR including transport costs. With a crowd funding, the product is a gift in return for the funding contribution, therefore the product value can be declared at production cost, which is 8 USD. So for a single package, the declared cost won’t be higher than 23 USD.

For good measures I should really look into country specific details and the links you provided are excellent! Thanks a lot.

@michaelg, if this plan of mine works out, I’ll ship you a copy to thank you for your contribution :+1: If you’re not scared of import taxes, that is :stuck_out_tongue:


#9

Duly noted @COMaestro. I’ll share my rulebook and hope to hear your thoughts :slight_smile:


#10

Already added prototype testing pictures and reviews from play-testers and a mention of play testing and design. Will continue improving based on your feedback. Thanks again.


#11

@COMaestro here is the link to the PDF rule-book. Writing a rule book is something difficult: it must have a balance between required information to play and sufficient example, and not too much rule details that would drown the reader. I think this current version could get few more pages of details. Maybe you have some feedback that could help me with this. I’m also planning to have an extended rule set online and a card catalog with examples of play.