Hey there, Machine of Death backer! It's been a while since we chatted. I hope you are doing well!
I have a couple of MOD things to share with you.
But FIRST THINGS FIRST: I have another project on Kickstarter right this very second! It's a new hardcover collection of Wondermark comics. If you like the sense of humor in the MOD game, you may also like Wondermark!
The campaign is running now and will end on Halloween. SPOOOOKKKYYYY ~ !
Even if you don't want to back the project, if you visit the campaign page you can download a totally free PDF of my LAST Wondermark collection! This will nicely round out the Wondermark PDFs you got as a backer reward for MOD.
Of course, the new book has a PDF-only tier too, if you want that. Here is the link again to the Wondermark campaign!
Now for the MOD update!
First is the that the Machine of Death game is COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. By the end of 2016, the five thousand extra games that we printed along with this Kickstarter campaign had all been sold!
We sold them through ThinkGeek, through Board Game Bento, through game stores and Amazon, and in person at conventions. And now they're gone!
All to good homes, I'm sure. (I'm not gonna do an eBay search.)
I have been approached by a game publisher about printing a new edition. It would be the same basic game, with whatever rule tweaks may be necessary to make the game better.
After playing it over and over for years and years now, I have a PRETTY GOOD idea of the weak points of the game, but coming up with ways to solve those points (while still keeping what makes the game fun) has been tricky.
Or maybe the key will be to approach the core concept in a whole new way!
If you have specific ideas or suggestions you'd care to share – specifically about how to tighten up or refine the gameplay – I'd be very keen to hear them.
I did publish this
OFFICIAL RULES SUPPLEMENT
a short time ago, containing what I think is the most important change from how the original rulebook was written: making playing with the “Chief” character the default, and turning it into a mini-lite-RPG sort of thing, rather than making “player consensus” the default, which can turn it into an argument.
Here's the printed supplement itself:
It fits nicely in the game box:
If you want a physical copy of this to add to your game, send me a KS message with your mailing address and I'll pop one in the mail to you. (While supplies last.)
Or, just read down to the bottom of this update. I'll put big images of the whole thing down there, after we dispense with the rest of the actual update info.
Another fun concept I mention in the supplement is the idea of retiring death cards after a game (so you never have to repeat). This makes MOD into a sort of "Legacy"-type game.
I started doing this myself just to keep things interesting during demos at conventions, and it ends up generating kind of a fun collection:
SPEAKING OF CONVENTIONS, as some of you may know, for a few years surrounding the release of the Machine of Death books and then game, we performed OFFICIAL DEATH PREDICTIONS on individuals.
My book co-editor Matt wrote a Twitter thread the other day telling the story of one particularly notable instance of this:
I followed this up with a thread of my own that became a sprawling overview of all kinds of MOD stuff we did at conventions over the years: building physical Machines of Death; giving out embossed death prediction certificates; getting in trouble for drawing blood on the con floor...
All topped with the story of the VERY BEST death prediction I ever delivered to a real person... who had no idea what the Machine of Death was, but whose life I'm pretty sure I changed that day.
The thread also became a place to post a lot of MOD-related stuff from the past few years that I think is interesting, but which never really had a reason to be posted before!
OK, that's basically all I have! I will add, if you liked this campaign, you might also be interested in:
• Here's the link to my Wondermark Kickstarter one more time, including the free book download (midway down the page).
• These days I'm also doing Wondermark behind-the-scenes stuff on Patreon...
Thanks for being a pal all this time, hope you enjoy!!
OTHER COOL THINGS TO KNOW:
• Our game is now available to brick-and-mortar retailers via GameSalute! If your local game store would like to stock MOD, point them toward GameSalute. I think GameSalute distributes worldwide? Or, they will in time, I have been told by a bird.
• I'm going to be in Austin this weekend! At the Webcomics Rampage event at Dragon's Lair, with lots of other neat artists. If you come too, then I will see you there??
CANADIANS: Your best bet shipping-wise is to order it from Snakes & Lattes:
We are also keeping a list of FLGS retailers that have obtained wholesale copies from us lately – if your store should be on here and isn't, please message me and let me know! The game and expansions will also be entering the regular retail distribution network later this year.
Most places just stock the base game (blue box) and expansion set (red box). However,at TopatoCo, we are also offering a full suite of à la carte accessories, including new, colorful skull dice (I couldn't resist!), official Mayday Games Premium Sleeves for your cards, and of course the larger world of MOD & Wondermark merchandise, including books and shirts and posters and whatever.
But hey. Who needs to buy anything? We've also put the game and all its manuals and expansions up for free download on our site.
The game is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license, so it's totally fine for you to play around with the mechanics, modify the rules, and make it into anything you like!
And I have something ELSE for you to download, as well...
One of our stretch goals promised that we would record a game audiobook. Well, we did, it's done, and it's ready for you to listen to for nearly a full hour!
In this video, Kris and I have a little...trouble with the recording. But we work it out, in the end.
You can listen to all the audio tracks on our website [RIGHT HERE]
If you would like to download the MP3 files to keep and cherish forever, they're up on Gumroad [RIGHT HERE]
Hopefully this is...helpful for you.
This leaves just three stretch goals left: the downloadable Artbook, the MC Frontalot song, and the original rules song. Rest assured I have not forgotten.
• San Francisco: I'll be giving a talk at the TableFlip gaming conference, this weekend,Oct 4-5!
• Los Angeles: I'll be doing demos at IndieCade in Culver City, next weekend, Oct 11-12!
• Austin: I'll be at the Webcomics Rampage event at Dragon's Lair, December 6-7!
At Comic-Con this year, and continuing on at GenCon, I had a great idea. I was running demos of our game, and just to keep it interesting for myself, I started retiring each death card after playing a round with it. I even had players sign the card when I was done!
It's kind of a fun idea, I think – this way you never play the same game twice. And with 200+ death cards included in just the base game alone, you can play PLENTY of games before you ever run out of cards.
In my opinion, this idea might even make the threshold to be included in the...
MACHINE OF DEATH GCA RULES SUPPLEMENT 1: House Rules Edition
Yes! I'm going to issue a supplement with additional gameplay ideas and thoughts on the rules, brought about by playing the game a bunch.
WARNING: GAMEPLAY MINUTIAE BELOW THIS POINT. If you are NOT INTERESTED you can skip down to the pie chart, which begins the next topic of discussion.
...Okay, those jerks are gone. JUST US NERDS NOW. So far, here's what will FOR SURE be included in the supplement:
• When you play the Speed Round, sort through the deck first to cull out the Specialists and Gift Cards that don't work well. (For example, the 'Chief' Specialists.)
• If you fail to get the kill before time is up, but you still have cards remaining,the game shouldn't end. I think making the game end there was a bad choice on my part.
Instead, the assassins should re-deal 3 more Gift Cards (if they have them in their budget) and pick up the round exactly where the narrative leaves off at the end of the failed round. The important thing is getting four kills before running out of cards...not necessarily getting four kills in four rounds only.
• Following as a corollary: if a team is on its fourth target, but has only a very small number of cards remaining, the Chief may give the team additional Gift Cards as needed to begin the round, and (at his or her discretion) may feed them more Gift Cards, as needed, to complete their one final attempt at the kill. (It's in the Chief's best interest to see the target dead, after all!)
In general, this is part of a larger, looser philosophy that says "It's okay for the Chief to do whatever's needed to keep the game fun." See the decisions I made in our Skype game for examples of this.
SOME THOUGHTS ON ASSIGNING DIFFICULTY
Questions about assigning difficulty are the most common feedback I've heard from players. It turns out this factor is very dependent on your gaming group, and so it's tough for such a subjective type of rule to work well for every possible player.
One thing that's in the manual, but I will emphasize again, is that when assigning difficulty, you shouldn't vote and you shouldn't argue. You always go with the hardest difficulty suggested – so you can move on to the rolling!
If it helps, you can even think about the difficulty numbers using a different metric – "kill points", or something else made-up. Don't let this hang you up!
It's true that some players are really into puzzling things out with skill and ingenuity and logic, and others are fine with a much looser, sillier structure. If you're of the former type, I recommend playing Chief Mode (having one player be the GM and issue pronouncements for all the difficulty ratings) whenever possible.
Especially if you're familiar with the game and some other people aren't, this is the best way to help new players get up to speed on the idea of the game.
It also lets you have fun discussions about logic and planning your kill really intricately, with an authority on hand who can issue the final say (and make any adjustments to play as needed to keep things running smoothly).
The Chief has ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY and can do anything he or she wants – including granting the assassins extra cards, interpreting cards however desired, and OTHER. This is the mode of play that most roleplayers will probably prefer.
If you don't want to get hung up on difficulty, and are OK with a little more randomness in the game, you may be more of a party-type player. For you, I recommend a new gameplay mode called The Mechanical Chief. Here's a video explaining it!
The gist is: you use a series of omniscient playing cards to take the place of the Chief and assign difficulty ratings each roll! (One thing I didn't mention in the video: If you trade the order of Gift Cards in your plan, move each one's facedown difficulty card along with it.)
This method of play bypasses ALL POTENTIAL ARGUMENTS and leads instead to INSANE STORIES with UNPREDICTABLE TWISTS.
If you feel like this would be frustrating, I refer you back to Chief Mode, above.
I personally like it, because it allows you the chance to justify the random twists and turns with storytelling – kind of like reading tarot, or something. The cards are random, but you can still give them meaning.
If you have other suggestions for rule variants, or house rules, or thoughts on these, please leave a comment! I will write up the official supplement soon, incorporating your feedback and suggestions.
For example, one request I've gotten multiple times is for a more kid-appropriate version of the game (teachers want this especially). What would have to change, if anything? Is the 'difficulty' element too complex to ask kids to figure out? What'd be the best way to port this storytelling mechanic to a classroom or young-audience edition? Let me know your thoughts!
The variability in possible gameplay is what I'm really glad people have been calling out in our Amazon.com reviews so far:
I'm very grateful to the reviewers who've tried to make it clear what kind of game it is (and isn't!)
I like this type of review because, of course, I want the people who will like this game to find it. But I also want the people for whom it isn't their cup of tea to save their money! But back to the first thing, I want that to happen more. Thanks to the kind folks who've left reviews! You are BENEFITING THE WORLD.
Now, speaking of money...
Here Is A Brief Kickstarter Expense Postmortem
I will keep this exceptionally short. I have had such a wonderful time being in charge of this monstrous project. In the graph above, you can see how all the funds we raised were spent. (If you want to know the exact dollar amounts, apply those percentages to the overall KS total and that'll be really, really close.)
I'm so pleased to have gained the acquaintance of all you interesting, pleasant people. We are part of a TEAM that has done something pretty great. Thank you for being part of Team MOD, and I hope the box on your shelf is a nice reminder of the thing we accomplished together!
It's scary participating in a Kickstarter campaign – throwing your money to the wind, as it were – and you have done me a great honor by choosing to be part of this with me. I've met many of you and learned so much from you. I have a lot to learn still!
I'm glad that this has all worked out as well as it has – hard work paying off, like it's supposed to – and I'm really grateful for your generosity, and your friendship, and your patronage of the independent arts.
You have proven to be the right people for a guy like me to trust with a year and a half of his life. I don't have another job! This dumb stuff is all I do. And it's been so great to be on the receiving end of the confidence, faith, and kindness of you all. WE ARE DOING GOOD THINGS, HERE.
I'm only able to do these kinds of things because of your support. We've come really far, and I hope you are enjoying your game, and everything I've shared with you along the way (with more things to come still)!
Tell people why you like this game – and if you don't like it, I want you to talk about it too! Tell everyone why this game sucks! Maybe someone with different taste than you will find something they'll enjoy in it.
Or, grab some game accessories for yourself, or another copy of the game to give as a gift! Now that the Kickstarter is essentially over, I WANT TO SELL ALL THESE GAMES.
That's where I'll start to see a profit from all this, is from selling the copies that are sitting in the warehouse now. SOUNDS...LIKE MY KIND OF CHALLENGE.
Or...if you've just HAD ENOUGH Machine of Death...come check out my new project, on Kickstarter RIGHT NOW. I'm making fictional Victorian jigsaw puzzles.
The puzzle campaign is UP NOW and ends on October 9.