Today marks the start of a new year, and an exciting announcement for myself and the Micro Dojo fans. The expansion will launch on Kickstarter in just a few months on March 16th. If you’d like to get early notification of the launch, just click the button below:
The Kickstarter project for the expansion (tentatively titled Clan Loyalty) has been approved! The prelaunch page has a ‘Notify me on launch’ button which will send you an email as soon as the campaign goes live.
I am aiming to have things in place to launch early next year, so to follow along click the button below and then click Notify me on launch. 1 bonus VP to anyone who also clicks the share buttons on the page to tell a friend!
A lot of people have asked me how they can get a copy of Micro Dojo after the Kickstarter campaign closed. I’m happy to share that the Micro Dojo Print-and-Play files are now available at PNP Arcade:
The files include:
Game board and tokens printed on a single page
Rulebook translations in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Greek, Arabic and Japanese
STL files for 3d printable storage box
Printable matchbox storage (and low ink version)
PNP Arcade is a really cool store for Print-and-Play games that I first heard about via Jason Tagmire of Button Shy Games. PNP Arcade was a perfect fit for Micro Dojo, being in line with other micro games and having a very small printing footprint.
Check out the product page for Micro Dojo at the link above, and why not look at some of the other great games on PNP Arcade (including some free ones!).
In case you missed the campaign, late pledges are now open at Gamefound where you can order your copy (or copies). These will be sent out with all of the wave 2 shipments, but the late pledges won’t be open for very long. Once Wave 2 fulfilment starts the late pledge option will be removed.
Thanks to the pandemic, more and more people are playing and enjoying board games solo, and at 20 minutes a game Micro Dojo is perfect for a quick solo game whilst travelling or over coffee.
Full disclosure – I wasn’t much of a solo board gamer, and when I first started work on Micro Dojo I hadn’t planned on a solo mode. I say I wasn’t much of a solo gamer, because the Solo Board Gamers group on Facebook is a hugely passionate group of gamers that opened my eyes to some really enjoyable games to play solo (including Tainted Grail, It’s a Wonderful World, and Spirit Island). Once I appreciated what a good solo mode for a game could be, I set out to make a great one for Micro Dojo. If you also like solo games you might want to check out the Facebook group too.
As of this update, the solo mode cards are going to be available to all backers as a print-and-play on a single sheet of paper.
When designing the solo mode for Micro Dojo there were some key things I wanted to achieve:
Capture the spirit of the two-player game
Have minimal rule variations from the two-player game
Minimise the overhead for handling the AI player
You can read more about the steps I went through in development of the solo mode below, and watch the How to Play video here:
The first draft of the solo mode simply had 8 tiles, one for each meeple and one for each direction. The meeple would always move in that direction (regardless of daimyo markers) and if it couldn’t then it would activate the space it was on. It was somewhat possible to somewhat predict where the AI would move on the third (and definitely fourth) draw, which was a good thing for capturing the spirit of the game, but the different movement rules for the AI felt quite removed the original game and was more like a race or an optimisation problem for the player.
The second big change was from tokens to cards. Testing on tabletop simulator let me run a lot of solo mode tests, but the digital environment disguised the fact that picking up, flipping, and shuffling the tiny tokens by hand would quickly become tedious. I chose American Mini sized cards as 10 of them would fit onto the same sized sheet as the token punchboard, making manufacturing and shipping easier.
The final change came thanks to a suggestion from fellow designer Simon Beal. To fit the feel of the two-player game, I considered having the player draw another meeple or movement card if that meeple was blocked, but with a deck of only 4 cards it felt like extra overhead for the player to manage when really I wanted them to be spending their time thinking about their next move. Simon suggested a priority system, and so sequencing the meeples and movement directions on the cards allowed for lots more variation depending on game state, whilst being a simple process to follow.
Then came the variation rules for activating spaces. As much as possible the AI should feel like a real player – gaining resources, buying buildings, and scoring objectives. However the AI is also not as smart as a real player, and can’t make decisions like placing a higher value on certain moves or resources because of the current (and future) game state. To account for that, the AI has a little boost in raw power, such as gaining points on the build space when at 3 buildings (without having to sacrifice one) or scoring points on the Action space if the AI is losing the objective. This acts as a timer for the game, encouraging the player to be efficient in their planning whilst preventing the player from exploiting the AI by stalling the game. As players improve and take on harder difficulty levels, the AI is provided with an increasing head start that drives players to optimise their choices even further.
I’m really happy that the solo mode not only provides an interesting puzzle to solve, but does so without excess overhead on the part of the player. It’s close enough to the original that a player who started with the solo game first could pick up the two-player mode. Solo mode is available to play on the Tabletop Simulator module here. If you want to try it out first and let me know your experience here on in the comments, please do give it a go and I hope you have fun.
In two days I’ll be hitting the big launch button and the campaign for Micro Dojo will be live. Micro Dojo is complete at launch, which means no long wait for you to get your game. Also, you won’t want to miss out on backing early, as the first 500 copies will be sent as a priority in the month after the campaign closes.
Micro Dojo will launch will be at the following times:
Americas: 4-7am (UTC-8 to UTC-5)
UK/Europe: 1pm (UTC+1)
Middle East: 4pm (UTC+4)
East Asia/Oceania: 10pm (UTC+10)
Luckily Kickstarter has a way to notify followers when the campaign launches:
Notify me on Launch
If you haven’t already, then now is a good time to sign up for a Kickstarter account. Signup is simple, and can be linked to a Facebook or Apple account. Not only will it save you some time on the day, but Kickstarter has a couple of cool features to help you and help the campaign be a success:
Notify me on launch
Your Friend backed…
The first is that big green button you see circled above, where Kickstarter will let you know the second that Micro Dojo launches. The second feature lets your friends on Kickstarter know once you’ve backed the project – they can admire your great taste in games and support the project as well.
Click on the button below to go straight to the launch page for super speedy updates on the big day:
Ben Downton and Prometheus Game Labs is launching Micro Dojo on Kickstarter on May 10th this year. The campaign is running for 21 days, during which backers can pledge funds to support production and in return receive a copy (or multiple copies) of the game. Designed to be small and simple to produce, and perfect for travelling, backers can pledge for a single copy for just £5 plus shipping.
Micro Dojo is complete at launch, meaning there is no long post-campaign development and production cycle. The first 500 copies will be shipped to backers immediately following the campaign, with further copies sent out in a second wave following a second print run.
The game has been playtested hundreds of times, and received high praise from reviewers. This launch is intended to be the first of many, delivering confidence to backers and building an audience for future successful game launches.
About the Game
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.
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.
Number of Players: 2 Game Duration: 15-30min Age: 14+ Website: prometheusgamelabs.com Kickstarter: kickstarter.com/projects/prometheus-gamelabs/micro-dojo/
With less than 2 months until launch I wanted to share some of the background behind Micro Dojo and how it came to to exist. Some of you been following along since the very first ideas and prototypes, whilst others may be newer to the growing community around the game, so here’s a little bit of background to what Micro Dojo represents.
I was inspired to create a micro game after some advice from Dan Alexander of Lander: The Game – to start with something small and build trust with backers, as well as building some experience of running a campaign, before moving on to something larger. Immediately I thought of Province, a micro game that was given to me as a gift from a friend back in 2015. Province was portable, cheap, shipped inside an envelope on a single punchboard, and delivered a good two player experience in a tiny package. From that point on I had my design criteria (or constraints) to build the mechanics, theme, production and logistics around.
Micro Dojo is the first Kickstarter campaign I’ll be running. Though it’s not the first game I started designing (that honour goes to TwinStick Pirates) it’s the first that has been fully developed and produced. I intend to keep creating and sharing games as Prometheus Game Labs in the future, and so Micro Dojo needs to deliver not just a good play experience but also a good overall experience (more on that next).
The more that the Micro Dojo campaign became fully realised, the more I identified some key criteria that I wanted the product to adhere to. I say product here specifically rather than game – whilst the criteria for the game is presented through the play experience, this makes up just a part of the overall experience.
A ton of game for a very low price. I wanted to fit as much variability as possible to keep the game fresh after multiple plays rather than a micro game that very quickly becomes ‘solved’. As time has gone on I’ve been able to add even more to the game through advanced game mode variants and development of a solo mode.
Immediate fulfilment. One of the downsides of backing a Kickstarter is that you can be waiting months and even years to actually receive the thing you’re so excited to play with! I wanted to cut that time as short as possible by making Micro Dojo complete at launch and ready to send to backers right away. This also means no complicated or overambitious stretch goals that could delay the project – all the work has been done up front.
Simple to produce and cheap to ship. Micro Dojo comes on a single sheet of token punchboard. That’s it. No chance for mispacks or lost components. The sheet is sized at 220x150mm, which is just the right size to fit into an envelope and ship with Royal Mail as a ‘Letter’. This is the cheapest shipping category possible to keep costs down for backers – no one wants to pay more than the cost of a game in shipping.
Reach as many people as possible. Leading on from the above, this also makes International shipping to anywhere in the world a possibility. Some of the amazing members of our community have also volunteered translations of Micro Dojo into (currently) 8 other languages to make it more accessible to non-native English speaking players.
A positive experience from start to finish. Backers (and their friends) enjoying the game is crucial, but so is their experience with the quality of the product, the clarity of information, their experience interacting with other members of the community, timeliness of communication and resolution of issues and so much more. I want to run the campaign in a way that way I would feel respected and valued if I was a backer.
It’s tempting as a (first time) creator to think of the Kickstarter as the end point. It is after all the largest milestone of a very long build up, and the culmination of a ton of effort. But really a Kickstarter campaign is just that – a kickstart to begin something. For the game this could be something like the beginning of future expansions, mobile app versions, big box compilations and so on. More importantly though this is the beginning of my interactions with hundreds of people across the world that I hope to be a long and happy journey.