I like end-of-the-year reminiscences from other people. It's very interesting to see what other people have experienced and valued. So I asked the Plaid Hat Games staffers -- the ones I could contact, at least -- to give me their personal top 5 Plaid Hat items for 2012. Here are the answers I got.
Joe Ellis, webmaster:
1. A brand new IP and a courageous choice for PHG's third release, Mice and Mystics has an emphasis on story and family play that casts it far outside what is considered "normal" for our hobby. But the great gameplay, thematic charm and top-shelf production has won over thousands and Mice and Mystics is, as a result, an enormous hit that has moved PHG past the perception of "the company that makes Summoner Wars."
2. I was personally tortured by the wait on the iOS release, especially by Jerry's constant podcast-dicussion of his playtesting! I'm still hopeful Summoner Wars iOS will blow up as a megahit, especially when more factions are added, but regardless, in the past six months, I have spent more time playing Summoner Wars on iOS than I have playing all other board games combined, even including Summoner Wars in real life. Thank you Playdek!
3. Colby going full time is a big deal because I, like a lot of Dougs, really cheer for him as a young business owner doing things he's passionate about and working his butt off the past three years to get to where he is. Hopefully PHG can continue to grow in size and in influence over the industry!
4. The BioShock Infinite announcement is a huge deal as Plaid Hat Games constantly blazes its own trail, casting off the conventional "new board game company" mold of catering only to the most dedicated and vocal part of our niche hobby, instead setting sail for video gamers who are slowly discovering board games and who outnumber board gamers by the millions. Of course it will be an even bigger story next year when the game is actually released.
5. The new Web site may be a bigger deal to me than to others, because it marks an uptick in my own involvement in the industry and with Plaid Hat Games. I discovered Summoner Wars in mid-2011 and in just the year and a half since then, just by getting involved where I could and helping out, I've had the honor of contributing to the company and its games in some important ways, for which I am delighted and grateful. Of course there are a couple other people who are just as critical to the creation of the new site as I am. I'm proud of my contributions developing a site that works, that looks great (thanks to Peter) and is useful to both the company and the Dougs.
James Sitz, former Summoner Wars lead playtester:
5. Bioshock- I had to keep quiet about it for awhile and it was neat to play some super early (and later) versions of it.
4. Rios and I being a totally wicked Villain team to crush Colby and Jake's heroes in the "unnamed Superhero game."
3. Designing and working on Queen Maldaria's pack. Colby made some changes and the art wasn't all what I had envisioned in my head, but the final product is still pretty darn cool. It's interesting to see that development process from a different perspective.
2. Tournament Organizer- Despite all the stress, it was cool to connect with all of the fans at GenCon during the Summoner Wars and Dungeon Run events.
1. Getting a chance to play the Resistance with Matt Drake and Alex Eding. ;)
Cory Bullock, the new Summoner Wars lead playtester: (in no particular order)
GenCon. This was my first year as an official demo guy at Plaid Hat Games. The year before, Cody, Jay, Alex, and I all kind of showed up and ended up helping out late in the days. This year we were there in an official capacity and I got to demo Mice and Mystics for most of the ‘con, though I stepped in and did a couple of games of Summoner Wars on my off hours. It was a fantastic time and I’m excited at the prospect of going again. I love giving demos and it was particularly fun to demo Mice and Mystics for families and their kids.
BioShock Infinite announcement. I had known PHG were in talks with top secret big videogame licenses, but I wasn’t important enough to know what it was. So it was just as big a surprise for me to hear about what this new release was going to be! Congrats to Colby and Isaac and everyone involved in that project.
Playing Mice and Mystics with my group. I got to play a couple test chapters of Mice and Mystics, as well as demo it, so it was really fantastic to bring it back to play with my local group. There have been three of us playing the game. I usually run Filch, Jack is usually Colin, and Jay is usually Lily; we bring Tilda along for some healing. The most exciting moment of our entire run is probably in one chapter—I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum—where there is a large battle in a courtyard and you get a bit of archery support and our rolls for that support were awful and we basically had to clear out the entire courtyard. We had Nez in this chapter, who we don’t usually run, so he wasn’t particularly leveled (compared to our usual characters). We were getting slaughtered. Nez was the last remaining mouse, we were one surge away from defeat, and Nez had one heart left, but he managed to defend three consecutive attacks to clear the table and give us the chapter victory. It was fantastic.
Becoming Lead Playtester. I’m extremely honored to have been appointed lead playtester for Summoner Wars by Colby. I’d been testing for about two years when I was given the position and I’m excited to see the announcement of some of the stuff we’ve been working on, like the first batch of second Summoners. There is some awesome stuff coming up for this game and I’m really enthused to be a part of it and can’t thank Colby enough for this chance.
Playtester card art preview emails. It’s always quite exciting to get an email from Colby with the new card art in it. ;)
Jerry Hawthorne, designer of Mice & Mystics:
1- My number one most awesome event this year was seeing my own game published. After 2.5 years of effort, it was quite life affirming for me, especially since it has been so well received. The day I got to hold the real thing in my hands and look through all of the components was quite a treat I will never forget.
2- Working with Rodney Smith for his Watch it Played series on M&M was a great experience. Rodney is a great person to work with and doing the in-depth breakdown of M&M with him, gave me a deeper understanding of the experience of learning M&M for the first time. This will factor in quite a bit with any of my future works.
3- The few times this year that I got to hang with PHG guys in person. I got to play City of Remnants and Bioshock Siege of Columbia while at or gathering. I have also played Colby's superhero game. We do most of our communication over long distances so it is really nice to hang out in person and play games in a casual environment.
4- Playing Summoner Wars on the IOS with people I would never normally get to play with. The IOS has really upped the game to a level of competitiveness I don't think I expected. I am amazed at how efficiently some players destroy me.
5- The site revamp was incredible. The day it went live sticks out in my mind because it blew me away. The site is top notch and the new key coding for all the various PHG products is a great idea.
Mr. Bistro, designer of Dungeon Run and the Filth faction:
5. Gen Con 2012. Nothing reinvigorates me more each year than connecting with fans, peers and friends at Gen Con. We are truly fueled by the support our fans give us, and I am very thankful for that. Shaking hands, hearing compliments and receiving feedback, and of course swapping stories are things that I treasure.
4. Announcement of Bioshock Infinite: Siege of Columbia. It's hard to express in words just how important this development is for PHG. 2013 is going to be huge. Like, the size of Alex's ego huge. Okay, maybe not that huge.
3. The Release of Mice and Mystics. After years of watching Jerry slave away on this game, it was incredibly gratifying to see the game's release to the public. I was nervous how gamers would respond to a product that utilizes so much readable text. Part of my trepidation may have been personal - I didn't want my contribution to hold back Jerry's greatness. In the end, the response to the game as a whole was wonderful to behold, and it has been great watching M&M shine, especially after I had already cherished its marvelous gameplay for a couple of years.
2. The Filth's Warm Reception. The Filth is my baby and the faction introduced radical changes to the Summoner Wars game. By the time the faction (and its reinforcements) went to the printers, I couldn't begin to guess what Summoner Wars fans would make of it. To my delight it proved to be a big hit, and helped showcase just how flexible and versatile Colby's rules set could be.
1. Colby Going Full-Time for PHG. Podcast listeners will know Colby has been wanting to work full-time for PHG for a long time. It truly warmed my heart to finally see him make that leap. Not only does it speak volumes about where the company is at right now, but it also indicates where the company is going. And it was a joy to see my friend develop his personal dream even further. I couldn't be more proud of the bastard.
Finally, Colby Dauch, PHG owner and chief game designer:
1. Bioshock infinite Announcement. We are a very small company that got chosen by, in my opinion, one of the greatest story telling minds working in any industry today to make a board game based on his story and IP. This is huge for us and wins my biggest Plaid Hat announcement of 2013.
2. Mice & Mystics awarded among top games of the year on Paste magazine. [In fact, it's #2 on their list.] M&M has seen a few awards already. Paste marks M&M as a game with reach beyond our current fan base. This excites me because reach means power to put greater quality into our games. The more games we can expect to sell with an expanding fan base the more money we can afford to risk up front on production value.
3. Summoner Wars on iOS released. It's Summoner Wars as a video game. Guy's, I'm a video game designer now! Too cool.
4. Website Restructure. Dang, Joe and team have made PlaidHatGames.com a great place to hang out and a great place to check out what we are all about. It looks great, it functions great, and it's a team that has stuck around to add content and continue to implement features.
So, what are your top PHG stories for 2012? I'll tell you my top 5, but you can mention your favorite 1 or 2, of course.
Posted by Bryan Stout