Well, it has been a LONG time since I posted a blog entry so I'm way overdue!
Emma News: The Emma Expansion has been printed and is currently on the boat to the US! We will be fulfilling our Kickstarter rewards once they games arrive and then will release the game into our distribution channels! We'll announce our release date as soon as it is set, but I anticipate it will be in early 2016.
Other News: I just spent the weekend at Gamehole Con in Madison, WI where Marrying Mr. Darcy and the Undead Expansion were both very well received. I also did three interviews with various folks and the first one has been posted! I somehow managed to be fairly articulate. So +3 Wit points for me! Thanks to Guys, Games and Beer for checking out the game and being fun to talk to! (My interview begins at 24:43)
Well, it has been way too long since I wrote any kind of blog post, but we've kind of been in a waiting game for the past couple of months. Our second print run was mostly sold out by January because we underestimated our Christmas popularity. There are still copies available at Amazon in the US, but overseas stock is harder to find. I'm expecting the third print run to arrive at our distributor any day now and we doubled our order from our previous print run, so hopefully we'll be able to keep things in stock more consistently now.
Anyway, I've delayed launching a Kickstarter campaign for the new Emma Expansion because we've been out of stock with the base game. However, the design of the expansion is pretty much complete, just a couple of rule clarifications and tweaks, but it is basically there! The art is well under way, all of the Emma characters have been drawn. We're still working on getting the graphics ready for the new Event cards but they shouldn't take too long to complete.
Once the new MMD print run arrives at the distributor, we'll get started on a Kickstarter campaign for the Emma Expansion. I think this should be within the next month or so.
Thanks so much for your support! Stay tuned!
I just returned home from a long vacation visiting my husband's family and our friends who live in New Hampshire. I managed to bring the completed Alpha test of the Emma expansion along and got in a couple 2 and 4 player testing sessions thanks to my husband Erik Evensen, and friends Matt Talbot and Jen Omand.
Things went ok and we had a fun time, but there were definitely some issues. Matt played as Mr. Woodhouse. His superpower lets him remove cards from the young ladies characters since he doesn't want anyone to get married and leave him to live alone in his old age. (This is a little out of canon character for him, but it was an idea I was running with.) He earns points for every lady who becomes an Old Maid at the end of the game. Mr. Woodhouse is WAY overpowered because he slaughtered everyone both times we played. We even adjusted the scoring rules for the second play through and Mr. W still ended up with a house full of Old Maid companions.
This may have also been due to the fact that there are currently only 4 Suitors in the game. (Mr. Martin, Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and Mr. Knightly) and all of them are fairly difficult to get. So the combination of difficult suitors, too few of them, and Mr. W being kind of a jerk basically ruined everyone's chances. So, some significant balance issues to work on.
Moving forward for the next iteration of the Alpha test. I'm planning on adding Anne Taylor as the 6th playable character and changing Mr. Woodhouse to 3 Event cards that occur in the deck, as opposed to being a playable character. I feel like his super power just messed with the mechanics too much, though he might be usable in a 6 player game?? I'll also add Mr. Weston as the 5th suitor- probably easier to get. I also might adjust the rules so that unless an Event card gives you a power to change it, all ladies must roll for suitors in an order from lowest points to highest points. (This would change the order for each lady.) I think this would make the press your luck mechanic more interesting at the end of the game.
Anyway, most of what I wrote above was pretty stream of consciousness and probably didn't make a lot of sense, but hey, what are blogs for? The good news is that I think a LOT of the work is still good, especially the Event cards which took the longest to write. So we're making progress. My goal was to get this to Kickstarter backers by October and I think we are definitely on track to meet that goal.
I've been working on the Emma Expansion pretty diligently for the past few weeks. I finally got the files finished last Thursday and got my copies back from the printer today. This is just in time to take them on a trip to New Hampshire where I'll hopefully get the chance to do some play testing with some friends of mine. I just have to pack it up with Marrying Mr. Darcy and we'll be good to go!
After we work out the bigger bugs, I'll rewrite the cards and get the files prepped to send out to Kickstarter backers. I'm not sure how long this will take- probably depends on how well it works and how many changes there are. I'm guessing the play testing won't take nearly as long as the original Marrying Mr. Darcy took (many, many months) since a lot of the basic mechanics are similar as opposed to starting from nothing. Here's hoping!
2. Brain storming
I have a bunch of notes of random ideas for various cards and character powers. This was significantly easier than brainstorming the original game. Since I decided early on that Emma should be an expansion/companion to Marrying Mr. Darcy, several of the mechanics were already in place.
Eventually I started writing cards into my spreadsheet (picture above). I actually started by creating the left hand column which gave me an idea of what event cards were in MMD (like party cards, scandal cards) as a rough guide to what to include in Emma. It is definitely not going to be exactly the same- for example there are not as many scandals in Emma, but there will be much more Meddling. So there are some new mechanics that go along with gossiping, meddling, "helping" your friends, and my favorite - match making. I'm still writing cards for the beta test but as of today I'm about 2/3 of the was done.
4. Making "cards"
I had my husband set up a file that I could transfer my written text into a card size text box in a document that will eventually become the PDF Print and Play. I probably should wait until all the cards are written in the spreadsheet, but seeing it look like an actual card is really motivating. These are about 1/3 complete. We're keeping them very simple and art free until we've got the game play and text finalized.
That's where I am at this point! Once I finish I'll do some in-house alpha testing, make revisions, and then send the files out to Kickstarter backers. I am optimistic that we would be able to eventually Kickstart a print run of the expansion and make it available in stores.
Now that I've finished shipping out 1400 copies of Marrying Mr. Darcy, I'm starting to think about the Emma stretch goal. During my Kickstarter campaign, I set a "stretch goal" that at $40,000 I would release a beta test Emma version of Marrying Mr. Darcy. I've been thinking about what form this might take. My best guess is it will be a substantial expansion pack, maybe around 75 cards- all new Event deck, and all new playable characters and suitors.
I've been thinking about who my playable characters should be. There are a smaller number of single women in Emma looking for husbands, so to make the game playable by 6 players I might need to get creative. Here are my current ideas.
Emma Woodhouse: Emma might be the only Austen heroine in all the novels who really doesn't need to marry. She is completely financially set and has no need to marry what so ever. I was thinking of making Mr. Knightly the only suitor she could marry, but for high points. I think he'd also have to be quite difficult for her to get, having to earn many character points. (The story is about her growth after all...) Additionally, I feel like Emma should be able to interfere with other players somehow, maybe by being able to swap their character points around if she sacrifices a card from her hand?
Harriet Smith: Poor Harriet. She falls in love with everyone and ends up with a broken heart more often than not. I feel like she should get decent marriage points for everyone (like Charlotte) and maybe have a +2 Friendliness bonus at the start of the game. Top suitor is Robert Martin.
Jane Fairfax: The accomplished Jane can marry anyone, though her top points are for Frank Churchill. If she doesn't marry, she automatically becomes a Governess at the end of the game for 8 points. (Or something, I haven't done any math yet.) If this happens, perhaps her reputation points count double at the end of the game.
Augusta Hawkins/Elton: This gets a bit tricky. We don't meet Augusta until she arrives midway through the book married to Mr. Elton, who should start the game as one of the suitors. Perhaps an Event card in the deck could determine whether this marriage takes place before the proposal stage? Perhaps if they marry mid-game, their strategy changes to ensuring Jane becomes a governess or meddling in other's affairs...
Miss Bates: Austen uses Miss Bates as a warning about becoming an Old Maid. I feel like Miss Bates will automatically become an Old Maid at the end of the game, but gets +5 to her old maid roll. Since she can focus on acquiring whatever character points she wants, she should be on a pretty even playing field with the other players. Additionally, since she is financially poor, the other players will have to give her charity in the form of Character cards at certain points in the game.
Mr. Woodhouse: Emma's father does not want Emma to ever marry and leave him by himself. This is his greatest fear. He also tells Emma that she must stop matchmaking as it is very disruptive to his company. I think Mr. Woodhouse gets 5 points for every other player that is NOT married at the end of the game. So perhaps when he is instructed to draw and play a character card he instead removes one from one of the other players. Mr. Woodhouse would probably only be used for 5-6 player games.
Other possible playable characters include Anne Taylor though the book basically begins with her marriage to Mr. Weston and she has never struck me as all the interesting. Suitors would include Robert Martin, Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and Mr. Knightly. (And possibly Mr. Weston) There is also Emma's sister Isabella and Knightly's brother John, though they are married well before the book begins and makes things confusing with more than one Knightly available.
Do you have other ideas? Please comment below! Feedback and ideas are appreciated.
Musician, conductor and game designer.