Top Sellers of 2017 (final)

by Nate T on January 03, 2018

Top Sellers of 2017 (so far, as of October)

by Nate T on October 06, 2017

Top Sellers of 2016 (final)

by Nate T on January 13, 2017

Top Sellers of 2016 (so far)

by Nate T on December 01, 2016

Reflections of 2015

by Nate T on April 01, 2016

While we are still in the year 2016 (as opposed to 2017), WoodForSheep looks back on the recently passed 2015. Our usual disclaimer: the opinions shared by Steve may be slightly exaggerated more than intended (but just slightly).

[WoodForSheep]: Favourite game you learned in 2015
Steve Jay Nate
I'd go with Celestia. A family friendly, fun push-your-luck game that's easy to teach and play. The artwork is gorgeous and the airship is pretty unique, adding that immersive quality to the game. Not that I'm an expert at it, but would say that Ladies & Gentlemen was pretty fun. It can accommodate up to 10 players, and its fun getting to 'spend' someone else's money. While there are no ground breaking ideas or mechanics introduced, Argent is still a fun game, using well known concepts and details. With its modular set-up, replayability is high and, with each different layout, a unique experience.
[WoodForSheep]: A game everyone may have overlooked:
Steve Jay Nate
Could use a more family-friendly theme, and certainly a unique name, but as a game, The Game hits the right notes. Even with simple, straight forward rule set, its still a fun and challenging experience, in a small, compact... game. Noir captures the anxiety of the chase, and being chased. It may not be everyone's cup of tea since it is a bit of a brain burner, but this game of deduction, and bluffing, and hunting, is simply a lot of fun. I think I played a lot of 'worker placement' games in 2015, so no surprise, my dark horse game is Code of Nine. It's relatively quick, but challenges you to make the most out of your decisions since there are limited rounds and moves before the game ends.
[WoodForSheep]: Something (WoodForSheep related) that happened in 2015 that was pretty cool?
Steve Jay Nate
Being invited to and attending CastleCon was a fun highlight of 2015, even while watching the Blue Jays bow out of the playoffs. Its always our pleasure to meet and service various gaming communities, and this was no exception. We've established a good reputation with our current contacts, but its still a pleasant surprise when we get a request out of the blue, to help a contact build a gaming community. Now, we're headed to a few local malls in 2016, to do just that! Guess our reputation precedes us, in a good way. Getting this guy on board (points to Jay), even after we told him all our trade secrets. Welcome aboard, minion!... Uh, i mean, partner!
[WoodForSheep]: WoodForSheep just passed the 5 year mark, what's in store for the next 5?... Or maybe at least this coming year...
Steve Jay Nate
We've certainly teased it a few times already, and maybe I'm sounding like a broken record, but hopefully a space of our own, and not of the pop-up variety. A functional base of operations, less driving around to do deliveries, and less chance of getting booted out in the middle of a game. Continue to build WoodForSheep as a name that has a positive influence, community-building focus. I still probably have to get up-to-speed, but would love to see more opportunities to introduce these fun games to new 'gamers' and build gaming communities in and around the GTA. Unfortunately, I think we stalled a bit this past year due to some projects and plans not panning out as we hoped, but at the same time, as doors closed, new opportunities presented themselves. Hopefully, some of our plans for more online/digital content come to fruition this year.


Getting to know Board & Tale

by Nate T on February 23, 2016

We had the pleasure of meeting, sitting down and chatting with the fine folks over at Board & Tale, a fun group of Canadian game designers and makers of Stratos. They even let us ask them a few questions. Here are the ones they answered.

[WoodForSheep]: What tabletop games (besides Stratos) have you played recently (say in the last 6 months) and liked?

[Board&Tale]: A couple games that we've played recently and simply can't put down have been Splendor and Star Realms. Also Suburbia! It has a great structure and the subtle humour is icing on the cake.

[WoodForSheep]: What are some of the top tabletop games on your (all time) list?

[Board&Tale]: That's a tough one, but we'd have to say that Risk, Settlers and Twilight Struggle (not to be confused with Twilight Imperium!) are all near the top of our list. Also Puerto Rico and Mansions of Madness – the former is just brilliant, and the latter makes the rich Lovecraft theme so much more concrete by taking place in small-scale locations you can build and customize.

[WoodForSheep]: Why the name "Board & Tale"?

[Board&Tale]: We arrived at 'Board & Tale' because we felt it evoked feelings of play, wonder and story-telling and echoed what we wanted to give our players: games worth telling stories about, with memorable elements and really cool interactions between them to keep everyone on their toes!

[WoodForSheep]: What's the inspiration for Stratos?

[Board&Tale]: While 'Stratos' was not modeled after any particular game, it was inspired by our favourite elements from a wide swath of games, especially lesser-known ones – even in formats outside of tabletop games. While some inspiration was derived from strategy RPGs, you don’t need to be an RPG nut to have a great time playing Stratos, but if you are, there are certain things you’ll appreciate!

[WoodForSheep]: What's the twitter pitch for the game (ie done in 150 characters or less, or around that, we won't be that strict)?

[Board&Tale]: Beautiful RPG-themed euro game adventure for 2-5 players, with non-euro alternate scenarios that are even better than the base game (and more to come!).

[WoodForSheep]: From first concept of the game to its current form, how long was that journey?

[Board&Tale]: All told, 10 years, with various twists and turns along the way. After sketching out the core ideas we got to prototyping out of Lego and cardboard to start. Once we got the game flow to a good state, we started with a single prototype made out of painted wood that seemed more like a fancy chess set than a board game, and iterated through a couple rounds of wooden versions before moving to produce it for the mass market. Quite a long journey with many late nights in recent years!

[WoodForSheep]: Where/when did that first light bulb come up (ie is there some bronzed napkin somewhere with the birth of Stratos on it)?

[Board&Tale]: When? 2006 Where? In our parents’ garages! Where else?! The napkin exists!

[WoodForSheep]: Anything interesting (mechanic, character, etc) that unfortunately got left on the cutting room floor along the way (well, one that you can share with us)?

[Board&Tale]: Without spilling too many beans, we used to have a 'healer' unit. After much play-testing, we decided the game was simply better without it since healing slowed the pace too much.

[WoodForSheep]: After I play my first game of Stratos, what should that experience be? After my 5th game?

[Board&Tale]: The first game gives many ‘aha’ moments – simple enough to get started, with realizations a bit later of just how much flexibility and options you can have even from a fairly simple set of characters and actions. What we often hear at the end of someone’s first game is “I was so close to winning, next turn I was gonna …” followed by the exact plan they’d been eager to try. Which, of course, they try to do in the next game.

By the 5th game there is a definite meta game that emerges, as well as even more creative play in using characters together and coming up with interactions you simply wouldn’t think of on your first play-though. We don’t want to spoil anything here, but this is what we wanted all along – having real staying power and depth, even as we pursued simplicity and refinement through the iterations over the years. With spells and treasures that can actually change the game board itself during the match, even re-playing the same map is usually quite a bit different from the last time!

[WoodForSheep]: If resources (and say even licensing) were not an issue, what would be the dream Board & Tale project?

[Board&Tale]: Without naming names, there is a certain franchise we would love to bring to tabletop form. Otherwise, though, our dream project is already here!

[WoodForSheep]: If you can share, what's next for Stratos (ie expansion)? Board & Tale (ie sneak peak of a new game in development)?

[Board&Tale]: Actually, this is one of the first questions asked after people play for the first time – although usually more of a statement along the lines of “what’s the first expansion going to be? I can see so many directions you could take this” – and they’re right. We have a lot of ideas and feedback collected, and are working on our expansion plans as we speak. No details yet – stay tuned!

Top Sellers of 2015 (final)

by Nate T on January 07, 2016

Top Sellers of 2015 (so far)

by Nate T on November 02, 2015

As you make your list and check it twice,
Its not our concern how you determine naughty or nice,
But perhaps wondering what gaming options are there,
Here's what others have purchased with special care.

What? Spill the Jars?

by Steve L on July 17, 2015

No, its not a game about creating a mess. Nor is it a game about preventing one either. Actually, it's not a game at all.

If you've dabbled into the world of table top games (beyond those found at the gaming aisle of big box stores), you may have heard of the term "Spiel Des Jahres". Or while browsing for games online, you may have seen an image of a token, wrapped with a ribbon marked with the same term. To put it simply, "Spiel des Jahres", in German, means "Game of The Year". It is an award which has been bestowed annually since 1978, to the best game released that year in the German marketplace.

Why the big fuss about Germany? Well, the country is considered by many, to be the centre of the board gaming world. The "Spiel" is like it's Oscars. The award is judged by a committee of game critics, who review games released in Germany for the year. In 1989, a separate award for children's games was created, known as the "Kinderspiel des Jahres".

While the "Spiel" tended to focus on family-friendly games, the committee would occasionally make special recognitions and awards for more complex games, like Agricola (back in 2008). In 2011, this was formalized into the "Kennerspiel des Jahres" (roughly translated to "Connoisseur-Enthusiast Game of the Year").

Winning any of these prestigious awards can quickly raise the game's awareness (and sales). Even just being nominated has its attraction.

If you're starting your board game collection (or looking to add to your extensive one), check out Colt Express (2015 "Spiel" winner), Broom Service (2015 "Kennerspiel" winner) and other past winners of these prizes. Even the nominees are pretty good!

Spiel des Jahres Nominees Winners
Kinderspiel des Jahres Nominees Winners
Kennerspiel des Jahres Nominees Winners

Breaking the Ice with Board Games

by Steve L on July 03, 2015

Have you been in a situation where you want to talk to people and make new friends, but can't seem to find a common topic to strike up a conversation with total strangers?

I've had my fair share of struggles with this in the past, as I was pretty shy and introverted as a kid. However, since Nate and I started regular gaming sessions with WoodForSheep, introducing and teaching various games has become a way for us to begin a dialogue with people (or "break the ice") and make new friends in the process.

Here at WoodForSheep, the games we teach, especially to those new to the concept of modern games, fall into the following guidelines:

  • Short play time (under 60 minutes) - Keep the audience’s interest with the opportunity to try multiple games in a short time span.
  • Simple, straightforward rules (teachable within 5-10 minutes) – Getting them into the game keeps them excited and prevents people's attention from wandering to other things.
  • Few moving components, minimal options – Allow players to focus on the game, and avoids confusion and the dreaded “analysis paralysis”
  • Can accommodate 4 or more players - The more the merrier!

With the above guidelines, here are additional “ice breaker” games we recommend (since we’ve already mentioned games like Tsuro, Anomia and Spot It in past articles):

  • Camel Up – A humorous spin on the racing genre. Players take on the roles of spectators and wager on the results. Plays up to 8!
  • Aztak – Build a pyramid of tiles in this game for up to 4 players.
  • Say Anything – A different take on topic/word association games; here players come up with their own choice words or phrases that fit the judge’s topic. Often leads to moments of hilarity and gives glimpses into the personality and mindset of each individual.
  • Love Letter – A quick and easy introduction to deduction games. Comes in a variety of flavours.
  • Telestrations – A cross between Pictionary and Broken Telephone. There is a point system to the game, but often gets lost in the laughs as players review each other’s artistic abilities (or lack thereof).

From personal experience, the above games are examples that are accessible and fun. They are avenues that allow people to gather and sit, play and have fun. Of course, one still has to take the initiative and ask, “Hi, would you like to play a game?”

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