About Time took its place at the Toy Fair in London's Olympia last week. We had a lot of good meetings and encounters.
We also received this lovely email from Lavinia Gheorghe, herself an inventor with a new board game called Gods of Olympus.
I am writing you this e-mail, being eager to tell you how much I like your game. It was, in my opinion, the best presence at London Toy fair.
I think it is really well made, well put together, it has great quality and design and, over all, it was the best game I saw in the fair.
I actually wrote a review on my blog about it, with admiration for a product that respects its customers...
Congratulations on an absolutely great game.
And from the review:
About Time (R) is maybe the best game I encountered in quite a while.
Everything about this game shows quality. From the minute you hold the box in your hands, you open and see the so many pieces inside, the printing quality, the choice of pieces for the game, etc. The creators kept the elements that showed quality and when they needed to save on cost they found really ingenious solutions. They also chose pieces that showed style.
The characters – You are not playing with normal
movers (you know which ones - the plastic cones that all games have).
You play with nicely drawn historical characters. (I was Queen
Elizabeth I, the other team was Genghis Khan.)
The ingenious way to hide the answer – the developers had two choices – to have a game with over 1000 playing cards, which would mean huge costs and a completely inefficient product, or to find a solution to put more questions on a card. And what a great solution they found: each card has 6 questions and the same answer. To avoid players cheating, they created a special box to hold all cards. This box allows players to read just one question while hiding all the other questions and the answer. I really admire them for this little, but effective solution to a real problem in terms of production. Well done, guys. I think this box alone is a selling point.
The design – I am an amateur designer, which helped me save a lot of money when developing the prototype. But I know my limits and I know how much of a difference a great designer can make to an already good product. That is why, I can appreciate a great design when I see one and I can see the hundreds or even thousands of hours they spent on making this game look great. About Time board game has a great design. Congratulations to the designer: you did a great job! (do you think we could work together?)
The many cards – Gods of Olympus is a game of many cards, so I know what effort that is to create, to verify and to place all questions in a nice design. That requires hard work. You would expect a board game like About Time to have about 200 cards, and they would be enough to play the game a few times. For those who do not know it, printing cards is the major cost of a board game. This box contains two sets of cards- double then what it would have been enough. And if you see that each card has 12 questions (6 on each side), well… there is no way you are exhausting the questions in normal play. That again, to me, it shows respect for the player and should be a great selling point.
Ways to make up for the losses – I think a good game has to offer the players the chance to win, even if they don’t know the answers. Otherwise it would be frustrating. If one player loses all the time, they will not want to play the game anymore, while the winners will just become too arrogant. When you know that there are ways to make up for the loss during the game, it gets more interesting.
I deal with this in Gods of Olympus by having many different types of challenges to cover for any needed skill or talent. About Time covers this in three different ways – the fact that you do not need to know the answer to win, you just need to be closest to the correct answer; the time cards that can offer you an advantage over the one who just won the previous round and some special steps on the board that can change the game. They really covered everything.
During the game, I was obviously losing (as usual in all the games that are mainly British), but at one point I managed to win half of my opponent’s tokens and went ahead. You could say that is not really fair. Don’t worry, he got everything back, because he knew the answer to one question and played a joker Timecard. So in the end the stronger player still won, but during the game I stood a chance and this kept me motivated.
It is funny how my favourite games are the ones that I almost never win, because I either have no idea about typical British stuff and most games in the UK and Ireland are based on British culture, or because I was always bad at remembering dates, or because my vocabulary is rather limited compared to a native English speaker, etc. That goes to show that if a game is good, you do not need to win it in order to enjoy it. Or, that I, for one, do not need to win in order to enjoy the game.
Now, as I said, I will not make a habit in praising board games I like, nor will I start reviewing in detail all the games, but About Time was worth the time to put all this in writing. It is a game that does not disappoint. On the contrary, it is a game that impresses. I wish that the highly advertised games from the big board game companies were this well made and showed this much respect for the players and the customers who pay a similar price.