Categories
Company Announcements Game Updates

Late Pledges Open at Gamefound

Following the success of the Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit Kickstarter campaign, the pledge manager (Gamefound) is now accepting Late Pledges:

There are 3 different versions of the pledge you can pick up. The Complete Edition contains everything (so far) for new players, whilst the Deluxe Edition and Envelope Edition offer the Loyalty & Deceit expansion to those that already have the original Micro Dojo.

Complete Edition

The Complete Edition for Micro Dojo is the perfect edition for new players, as it includes everything from the Deluxe edition plus the original game. That means

  • 2 game boxes (for both Micro Dojo and Loyalty & Deceit)
  • 8 Wooden Custom-Cut Meeples
  • Punchboard tokens
  • Rulebooks
  • Solo mode cards
  • Setup cards
  • Reference Cards
Complete Edition Contents

When pledging through Gamefound, the Complete Edition also includes the Kickstarter Edition sleeve for storing both game boxes together:

Kickstarter Exclusive Sleeve

Deluxe Edition

One of the requests during the original campaign was for a box as an upgrade, and though it wasn’t possible to include in last years campaign I’m delighted to be able to include one now. 

In addition to the box, the Deluxe Edition has some exciting upgrades to the components:

  • 2 boxes (for both Micro Dojo and Loyalty & Deceit)
  • Wooden Custom-Cut Meeples
  • Triple-layered player board   
Deluxe Edition Upgraded Components

Envelope Edition

Just like with the original, Loyalty & Deceit is ultra compact, fitting on a single sheet of token punchboard sized to fit perfectly into a protected envelope. In the envelope you’ll receive:

  • Punchboard sheet with pieces
  • 1-page folding printed rulebook in English
  • Resealable plastic bag for holding all components
  • Setup and Reference cards 
Envelope Edition contents

Categories
Company Announcements Game Updates

Micro Dojo published in Hungary by Reflexshop

I’m excited to announce that, along with the support of Meeple On Board – Vanguard, Micro Dojo will be published in Hungary by Reflexshop!

Keep an eye out later this year for translated copies appearing in Hungary.

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Uncategorized

Loyalty & Deceit: Advanced Mode and Solo Mode

(This was originally posted as a Kickstarter campaign update)

Micro Dojo was designed to have a ton of flexibility and replayability in a small package, and Loyalty & Deceit is no different. I’ll be featuring the extended game in a later update, but for this update I want to talk about a couple of the other game modes:

  • Advanced Mode
  • Solo Mode Playthrough

Advanced Game

The advanced game mode was included as a small section of the rulebook to provide yet even more content to the game whilst making use of existing components. It was recommended to players after they had played 5+ normal games of Micro Dojo as the rules (and particularly objectives) could lead to more complex play that might not be intuitive during the early games. The advanced game content could breath new life into the game for those that exhausted the base game, but truthfully I didn’t think many players would even get to that point.  If you only ever play Micro Dojo once or twice it still represents pretty good value for money. 

A recent post, and subsequent poll, on Instagram showed me just how popular the Advanced game mode was, with a lot of players saying it was their preferred way to play. The extra decision space offered by the advanced movement abilities, particularly when paired with a cost to activate them, really adds another level to the game for just a few small rules changes. Even, more, replayability!

Just like designing an expansion, the advanced movement abilities aim to ‘break’ some of the game rules to add interesting decision space. What makes the meeple movement abilities so unique is they can be used by both players, and so even if you don’t use the ability yourself you are placing the meeple in a position where your opponent might make use of it. In Loyalty & Deceit there are four new meeples that you can mix and match to further extend the Advanced game mode.

The Horseman is the mirror of the Samurai. Where the Samurai has basic extra mobility this is also mirrored with the Horseman being able to access otherwise inaccessible spaces. The Horseman had to have an ability that was similar to the Stables building of course (both representing the additional speed of the mount) and in fact moving two spaces in a straight line whilst ‘jumping’ over existing meeples was one of the initial design ideas for the Stables. This ability is only useful when the Horseman is on one of the 8 edge spaces and the opposite space is free, so it wasn’t suitable for the Stables, as a building that was only sometimes usable could lead to a negative play experience, but it was perfect for a meeple ability where the threat of using it was something each player had to think about constantly. 

The Monk is the mirror of the Geisha, with both intending to be the more peaceful of the movement abilities. The idea of the Monk meditating in place and not moving was a great thematic match for the ability, and I like it as a fundamental rulebreaker ability where a covered space cannot (normally) be activated again. It adds a really interesting decision space too – if you want to move the Monk to a powerful space, then your opponent has the opportunity to use that space after your next turn too. Side note: this mirroring approach wasn’t in any way communicated to the artist, or even intended at the time, and yet if you look at the Geisha artwork you’ll see the Monk is a mirror design of the Geisha (from the kimono/kesa trim and the the posed hands). 

The Sensei is the mirror of the Sumo. Where the Sumo pushes an opposing meeple out of the way, the Sensei pulls an adjacent meeple into the space that was previously occupied. The Sensei’s movement ability therefore allows you to move it freely whilst still protecting the space that is being left behind. It is the more defensive version of the Sumo’s offensive ability.

The Messenger is the mirror of the Ninja, and just like the Ninja was also the most difficult to design. When I started to come up with ideas I was amazed at how many possibilities for manipulating movement there was with just 4 meeples in a 3×3 grid. I played with ideas of programmed or forced movement, Daimyo marker manipulation, and even space/board manipulation. I wanted to capture the Messenger’s theme of going from some destination to another, or taking something from or to somewhere, and this is what eventually led to the idea of moving the Messenger adjacent to a meeple marked with a Daimyo marker. The intent here is that the Messenger is delivering a message to a Daimyo and goes directly to them without delay.

Solo Mode + Playthrough

Some of the details of the new Solo Mode changes can be found in the How to Play video (2:06) Mostly these were simple changes for the Automa to adapt to using the new Loyalty and Favour mechanics, but also required some changes to the Difficulty levels, rules clarifications for new tiles, and a lot more. Humans are very adaptable to new rules, but the 8 solo cards needed some help!

I decided to play through and record a Solo game to show you how it plays, and almost immediately regretted it when I started to get crushed by the Automa. How embarrassing would it be for the creator to get beaten by his own game? That said it was a great opportunity to talk through my thought process for how I play the game, how I solve the solo play puzzle, and share some insight on the new mechanics. I hope you enjoy it.

Categories
Company Announcements

Announcing Micro Dojo: Macro Edition

(Originally posted as a Kickstarter campaign update)

One of the nice things about running a campaign is I get to hear lots of feedback from the people that are going to be playing my game – you the backer. Wherever possible I want to add your suggestions and make the game better, and one of the common pieces of feedback about Micro Dojo is that it is just too small.

“But Ben,” people say, “when will you be doing a larger edition of the game?”. Well, now’s your chance to get involved with Micro Dojo: Macro Edition (or just Macro Dojo for short). I’ve added a unique stretch goal, where the funding goal is directly correlated to the size of the game. The more backers there are, the bigger Macro Dojo gets, so tell your friends!

Stretch Goal 1 – 100 extra backers

The Internet has gone crazy for pictures of chonky cats and hefty puppers, but I say bring on the big meeples! At 100 backers, Macro Dojo will get some meeples truly worthy of the title. Check out this UNIT: 

Big boi Samurai meeple

Stretch Goal 2 – 400 extra backers

Micro Dojo was intended to be a great travel game or a way to pass some time whilst out of the house, and I’ve taken that a step further with Macro Dojo Outdoor Edition. The plastic mat in Twister is the best bit, and following that I’ve made a playmat so big that you can see it from space!

Satellite view of the fulfillment centre (my Mum’s house)

Macro Dojo Outdoor Edition doesn’t come with meeples included, but will come with a discount voucher for costume rental in your area for 4 willing friends. Friends not included.

Stretch Goal 3 – 828 Backers

I live in Dubai, and when you live under the shadow of Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) it’s hard not to be inspired to think BIG. Incidentally, 828 is the number of metres that this monster of a building stands tall and is also the height of one of the in-game meeples.

Unfortunately The Game Crafter weren’t able to sort out a prototype of this size at such short notice, so instead I have created a digital mockup to illustrate the size:

Prototype Macro Dojo meeples (not available in stores)

I really hope we can hit this stretch goal together. With your help we can create Micro Dojo: Interfering with Aircraft edition and finally put an end to the complaints about the game being just too damn small!

Happy April Fools Day everyone, and thanks for being part of the campaign 🙂

Categories
Game Design

Clan Spotlight: Shinchoku

Theme

The Shinchoku clan represent the lighter, peaceful side of the town, with more spiritual tones in the building design. The left side of the board has lighter stone and creeping plant growth with blooming flowers. This represents the prosperity and abundance that the Shinchoku bring through their focus on development of the town. The place is literally blooming with life.

The box art also mirrors the board in this way. The lighter stone on the left side of the board is shown at the front of the dojo, whilst the vines and flowers on the board can be seen spreading over the tree and the lake. 

The building artwork for the Shinchoku clan reflects the colour scheme used on the box and the board, made up of greens, blues and pinks.  Just like in the Tsuyo Clan Spotlight, these buildings are also influenced by historical or cultural realities.

The Shinchoku clan represent progress, developing the town into a an advanced city that can be enjoyed by all. The zen gardens, common in Kyoto, were intended to be serene and calm places to aid meditation. The clean lines you see in the gravel are raked every single day, also as a practice in concentration. The Gardens here, like other more ornamental constructions in the game (such as the Statue) provide immediate victory points for the player. As the Shinchoku are dedicated to progress, and hence a faster game, the 1 victory point gain from the Gardens is manifested by the player taking 2 points, whilst also giving a point to their opponent.

A tea house, or Chashitsu, is a particular space used for tea ceremonies that came about during the Edo period. Some of the most important tea ceremonies were held by the Shogun, offering the invited Daimyo an opportunity to expand their social and political influence. The Tea House in Micro Dojo behaves in much the same way, allowing the Loyalty action to be used to gain 2 Favour instead of 1. This provides an alternative option to progressing along the Loyalty tracks, as well as combining well with other Shinchoku buildings that use Favour as a resource.

Jo-an Teahouse

Mechanics

Mechanically, the Shinchoku have some sub-themes that I wanted to add into the game as a mirror opposite to the Tsuyo, focused on a faster game with: 

  • Sharing benefits to both players
  • Efficiency 
  • Flexibility

The Shinchoku building abilities are simpler, as many of them take existing options and improve upon them. The Tea House makes Loyalty spaces more efficient; the Orchard makes Favour tokens more efficient; the Pagoda makes Actions spaces more flexible. This simplicity gives the Shinchoku a more raw kind of power (as opposed to the technical kind of power of the Tsuyo), and the abilities they have will almost always be useful.

Balancing the buildings  for those that mirrored existing buildings was straightforward. For example, the Gardens functionally provides a 1 Victory Point, which is the same as the statue. Arguably it is slightly more powerful (since it is effectively 1 point needed of 6), but the Favour cost replacing a resource cost makes it more challenging to obtain. The remaining buildings had additional balance considerations around when in the game they would be used and for what value, which is explored in the strategy tips below.

Note: Some of the buildings may go through some balance or graphical changes before the final print run.

Strategy Tips

If you’re picking up Shinchoku buildings, and progressing along the Shinchoku Loyalty track, you can expect the game to be much quicker.  That means that you want buildings with instantly applicable effects, like the Statue and the Castle, as well as buildings that can help you position to close out the game like the Stables and the Guard House.

When valuing the Shinchoku buildings, some of them are much better used at different stages of the game.

Early Game

Buildings that grant you resources, or more efficient generation of them, such as the Tea House and the Orchard will be useful early in the game. Indeed the flexibility of both of these can inform your early game about whether you focus on progressing up loyalty tracks or on gaining favour to be spent on getting more points.

Komainu is a great early pickup as it can accelerate your early game immensely, but be warned as it also helps your opponent. You’re still 2 resources ahead whenever you use it, but it could lead to your opponent being able to buy early buildings they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Late Game

The Gardens is efficient at any time, as just like the Statue (and indeed any building) it can be sacrificed after its use for an additional point. The Gardens really shine when you’re at 5 points though (or 7 in the extended game) – who cares about giving your opponent a point when you just won the game! 

Other buildings that grant you flexibility like the Pagoda and the Onsen can make it easier to score points by simply giving you more options to close out the game, making it harder for an opponent to block those final points.

As a final note, the Shinchoku buildings skew towards costing Food (rather than Gold) so you will want to prioritise those resource spaces on the board accordingly.

Summary

The Shinchoku clan develop the town at a fast pace, gaining resources more efficiently than their opponent in the early game and using their flexibility to close out the game at the end. The Shinchoku clan are happy to bring their opponent along with them in this success, just as long as they are the ones holding the power at the end of the game.

 

Categories
Game Updates

Design your own board

One of the most exciting features of Loyalty & Deceit is the modular board, allowing you to create your own board setups for each game. I thought this was a really cool new feature for the game but it led to a little problem – with the board changing each time it could be difficult to remember what was under each meeple space during play.

Enter the setup cards. These have two great benefits. Firstly, by acting as a handy nearby reference card it mitigated the issue of remembering the unique board setup. Secondly, the suggested setups allowed players to jump right into the action and know what kind of experience they’re getting, whether a new player looking for a simple game or an experienced player looking for a more complex setup.

I’ve designed a handful of suggested setups, to be included in the game, but I’m offering you a chance to have your designs make it into the game. Submit your design (link at the bottom) and the community will vote on their favourites during the campaign.

All of the details of the competition can be found in the campaign update over at the Kickstarter campaign page:

Categories
Game Updates

Clan Spotlight: Tsuyo

(Posted originally as a Kickstarter campaign update)

Theme

The Tsuyo clan represent the darker, more corrupt side of the town and their artwork and theme reflects that. The right side of the board has darker stone, dead ground and dying trees. This represents the clans dark side in a metaphorical sense but also a more literal one – the clan focuses on taking resources for themselves at the expense of the town, and it has fallen into disrepair.

The box art also mirrors the board in this way, and if you look at the background behind the dojo you’ll see this clearly demarcated by the road down the centre. Even the water of the lake has started to become corrupt and polluted on the Tsuyo side.

Tsuyo buildings

The building artwork for the Tsuyo clan reflects the colour scheme used elsewhere, made up of reds, browns, blacks and greys.  A quick glance at this set of buildings should leave no doubt that this is the Tsuyo clan. More than just the colours though, the buildings available in the game were influenced by certain historical buildings or cultural aspects.

Kabuki theatre, though enjoyed by the masses, was unpopular with the Shogunate and led to several bans on certain performers. It was a place where different classes could mix, meet, show off their wealth, and trade in gossip and favours. This defiance of the Shoguns wishes is represented in the Theatre’s ability which allows the player to immediately flip a previously scored objective face up. This not only allows the player to choose a potentially favourable scoring opportunity, but also to ensure that the game does not end immediately if the final objective is in sight for an opponent.

The Theatre and Kabuki performer in Kumadori

The Bakuto Den is one that I’ve already highlighted in the campaign, and is my absolute favourite of all because of the Kabufuda cards in 8-9-3 secretly nodding to the fact that the Bakuto were forerunners of the modern Yakuza. Designing an ability that reflects gambling in a game with no randomness was a big challenge, and the building went through many design changes. In the end I opted to reflect the idea of the Bakuto deceiving the unsuspecting gambler with a rigged game – the more affluent the players the more the Bakuto stood to make. The Bakuto Den benefits from your opponents success, gaining more resources the higher your opponents score is.

The Bakuto Den with Kabufuda cards showing 8-9-3

Mechanics

Mechanically, the Tsuyo have a few sub-themes that I wanted to represent in the game, focused around a higher degree of interactivity with your opponent and disruption of the normal game flow. In particular, the Tsuyo clan also have some unique ideas not found in the base game:

  • Stealing or Damaging Opponents (Toll Gate, Gunsmith)
  • Points as a Resource (Brewery)
  • Objective Manipulation (Theatre)

Balancing the Tsuyo clan buildings was fairly straightforward, for those that relate to variants of existing buildings that are already well balanced. For example the Gunsmith is a mirror of the Shrine (rather than gaining a point your opponent is instead losing one) and the Toll Gate mirrors the Broker or the Yatai as a net two-resource swing. The Jail gives you similar control to the Guard House but with two benefits (both clearing a destination space and replacing a meeple elsewhere) so it is costed higher. 

For those buildings with completely new abilities, like the Theatre or the Brewery, they were costed on different considerations like their expected value, the point in the game at which they are expected to be most useful, and how many conditions there are to be able to gain value from the ability.

Note: Some of the buildings may go through some balance or graphical changes before the final print run.

Strategy Tips

If you’re picking up Tsuyo buildings, and progressing along the Tsuyo Loyalty track, you can expect the game to last a little longer.  That means you have more time to take advantage of resource generating abilities to squeeze out an advantage.

Resource generation buildings and those that let you convert those resources into points become much more valuable with repeated use:

Original buildings that work with the Tsuyo clan strategy

When valuing the Tsuyo buildings, some of them are much better used at different stages of the game.

Early Game 

The Brewery is a great early game building, as once you have that first point you can give it up safely to pick up the resources needed for more buildings or more efficient points. Buildings like the Gunsmith and the Toll Gate meanwhile are useful at all stages of the game but gain value the more uses you can get from them.

Good early game buildings

Late Game

The Bakuto Den gets stronger the better your opponent is doing, so of course it’s better in the late game, however it is costed to be an easy early game pickup. Whilst its potential is high, it represents a long term plan to manage the pace of the game and your own score relative to your opponents.  

The Jail is another building useful in the late game as its high cost prohibits its use consistently. It will typically be used for either clutch access to an objective scoring space, or the ability to reposition a meeple to block your opponent for one more turn. You may even go the whole game without using the Jail, but it’s part of your toolkit that is a constant threat to your opponent as long as you have 3 Gold available.

Finally, the Theatre lets you control the pace of the game by effectively adding a 6th objective (worth 1 or 2 points). Typically you would want to flip an objective that you are expecting to be able to score and close out the game, but it can also be used when you want to delay the game – leave it unscored whilst you catch up or win generating points from other means.

Good late game buildings

As a final note, the Tsuyo buildings skew towards costing Gold (rather than Food) so you will want to prioritise those resource spaces on the board accordingly.

Summary

The Tsuyo clan steal from their opponents, disrupt their progress, and manipulate the game so they can take advantage of the power they’ve gained. 

Keep an eye out for the next Clan Spotlight that introduces the Shinchoku clan – the lighter Yang to the Tsuyo’s Yin.

Categories
Game Updates

24 Hours to Launch

Tomorrow I’ll be hitting the big launch button and the campaign for Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit will be live. You can pick up the envelope edition, deluxe upgrade, complete edition, or the print-and-play files for both games.

The campaign will launch will be at the following times:

  • Americas: 4-7am (UTC-8 to UTC-5)
  • UK/Europe: 12pm (GMT)
  • Middle East: 4pm (UTC+4)
  • East Asia/Oceania: 10pm (UTC+10)

Keep an eye on the social media channels too, as I’ll be broadcasting the launch live – showing off some of the components and giving you a view of what it’s like to hit ‘launch’ on a Kickstarter project.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Categories
Company Announcements

Press Release: Micro Dojo expansion – Loyalty & Deceit

Prometheus Game Labs launches Micro Dojo expansion, Loyalty & Deceit, on Kickstarter March 16th 2022.

An expansion for the hit pocket-game Micro Dojo. Pledge your loyalty, earn favour, and help your chosen clan come to power.

As a follow up to 2021’s hit Kickstarter game, Micro Dojo, Prometheus Game Labs is launching an expansion for the game called Loyalty & Deceit. Building on the unique format to fit inside an envelope for cheap international shipping, the launch will also feature a boxed deluxe edition and a second chance for new players to get a copy of the original game. Coming March 16th on Kickstarter.

The game introduces two rival clans that fight for control of the town, and players can pledge their allegiance to each through the new Loyalty mechanic. This introduces alternate advancement tracks, clan affiliated building abilities, and a new ‘Favour’ resource. Other additions include a modular customisable board, split objectives, and an extended 9 point version of the game.

The game has been playtested and iterated upon extensively, building on the original framework, and developed with support from Player Lair. Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit is complete at launch, meaning there’s no long wait to complete the artwork or content development and backers will get their game as soon as possible.

Micro Dojo is a tactical two-player game that fits in your pocket. It is a worker placement game where the shared Ninja, Geisha, Sumo and Samurai are moved around a 3×3 grid to take actions. The chess-like elements of tactical movement and opponent prediction is inspired by games like Onitama and Cerebria, whilst fans of euro games that follow the typical acquire-build-score framework will feel comfortable with Micro Dojo. Overall it is a medium weight game that has simple turns, but a depth of play that allows player to exercise their intelligence.

Details
Number of Players : 2

Game Duration: 15-30min

Price: £5

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/prometheus-gamelabs/micro-dojo-expansion

Website: https://prometheusgamelabs.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/prometheus.gamelabs

Instagram: https://instagram.com/prometheus.gamelabs

Artwork by: David Grigoryan

Assets:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1fEpl_8mKxhQXSAPuCCD7ku3n-Hn5snW9?usp=sharing

Categories
Uncategorized

Is Micro Dojo right for me?

Maybe you’ve just heard of Micro Dojo, or come across the new Loyalty & Deceit Kickstarter campaign, and are wondering if Micro Dojo is the right game for you? If so, read on.

In Micro Dojo you are one of two Daimyo—feudal lords of Edo Japan—tasked by the Shogun to bring prosperity to a small town. Carefully manoeuvre the town’s retainers to gather resources, build buildings, complete the Shogun’s tasks, and win favour. The most prosperous Daimyo will be granted the title to the town.

Vital Statistics

  • Player Count: 1-2
  • Time: 15-30mins
  • Type of Game: Competitive
  • Mechanics: Worker placement, Area Movement
  • Size: Box (145x100x20mm), Game Board (92x85mm)
  • MSRP: £10

Why would I like it?

Micro Dojo was designed to offer a tight two player experience, where it feels like each move you make really matters. If you enjoy a head to head experience, or a puzzly solo mode, all in a small package, then you’ll love Micro Dojo.

Micro Dojo is a game of perfect information, meaning that other than the randomness of the initial setup (which has billions of combinations) there is no randomness. Being skill-based, the winner will be whichever player made the best choices over the course of the game.

If you like games that you can take with you, get setup and playing quickly in a small space, and then pack it away or go again, then Micro Dojo is a good fit for you. Micro Dojo is also very quick to learn – the How to Play section of the rules is just one third of a piece of paper.

Overall Micro Dojo offers a ton of value in a small package, and a ton of replayability between the randomised setup, advanced game modes, solo mode, and the modular board and extended game that comes with the Loyalty & Deceit expansion.

What other games are like it?

The elegance of the rules, combined with the depth of thought in Onitama, was a big influence on Micro Dojo. Similarly, the tightness of play in Cerebria, as well as the idea of having the public objectives visible from the start, was something I wanted to replicate in the game. And, though it didn’t directly influence the development of Micro Dojo, I found Targi to be a great match in terms of play style and a game I have enjoyed immensely.

Fans of Euro-type worker placement games will feel comfortable with Micro Dojo, as the game is built around a standard Acquire-Build-Score type of framework that has you gathering resources, gaining new abilities, and scoring points.

Finally, the chess-like element of having to predict your opponent and outmaneuver them can be found in games like Hive, Raptor, and Air, Land & Sea.

Where can I get it

Kickstarter

Gamefound (Late Pledges)

Retail: TBC