1 May 2022

LEIRIA CON 2022, Portugal – Part 3: Wandering

I always seek for time, at these meetings, to just wander about, from table to table, listening, observing, in search for people, game boards, and tokens, the right angles or uncertain ones, of light and shadow. Keeping images. Freezing moments.

He too, wandering, pensive, in The Grizzled

The appealing aesthetics of Pax Pamir

At the North Sea, Attention All Shipping

Tony Boydell, with Attention All Shipping

Other pilgrimages, in Pilgrim

Nica Case, and Pilgrim

In need of room, for The Clash of Cultures

And plenty of spatial-temporal room, for Twilight Imperium

People gathering

The time has come to close the gate

28 April 2022

LEIRIA CON 2022, Portugal – Part 2: At the table


The tables were calling for me.

And there I went, to try out some games.

All of them, except one, games in development, at different stages.

An opportunity to talk, before, during, and after playing.

About games, themes, mechanisms, and sensations.

With Citie Lo ...

... and its Zoo, in a 3 player test

With Uli Blennemann, teaching the new La Granja ...

...now bearing the name El Burro

Placing parasols in Copacabana, by Bruno Ribeiro

Meeple Land, the only non-protoype played

And, in the last day, I finally found an empty spot at Mac Gerdts table, ...

... for an experimental voyage on board of Transatlantic II

All this with the sea, the sand, and the wind, just across the road

25 April 2022

LEIRIA CON 2022, Portugal – Part 1: We meet again

April 1st. Early morning. This Friday wouldn't be a work-work day, as usual. The backpack was ready. Camera, the indispensable notebooks, pen, and pencil, some brand-new business cards, water, and a couple of snacks. The car was sitting by the sidewalk, waiting. The road, further ahead. Destination Vieira Beach. Goal: LeiriaCon. It was April 1st. But this was not an April’s Fool joke!

The last LeiriaCon which I attended, also the first, was held back in 2019. At the time, I was still in the process of rediscovering the world of boardgames and the gaming industry, in its 21st century version. This blog has been started in 2018, collaborations for translations shortly ensued, as well as participation in various forums, and all the while the collection of games continued to grow. 

One year later, expectations were high. Contacts had been multiplying, so many names became familiar ones, and my boardgame-focused activity had widened. The anticipated menu for that year included a participation in LeiriaTalks, a session on demonstration and game teaching conducted by Paul Grogan, experimenting with prototypes, playing, and of course meeting the people behind the games, and sharing tables with them.

But then, the pandemic struck. Everything was suspended, postponed, cancelled, confined. Well, not truly everything, because the virtual dimension allowed this area to keep running. And those secluded times included games played in family, the most frequent way around here, after all. But it just wasn't the same. And two years have passed... Three doses of vaccine later, things finally started to change.

The reunion was then scheduled for April 2022! The plan was set. I would miss Thursday, the start-up day. Friday, typically a day with fewer visitors, would be the perfect opportunity to meet, for the first time in person, so many of "those people". Plus, it would be a good day to try out some prototypes, those games yet to be, in the presence of their creator. For Saturday, a fifty-year journey with “my games” at LeiriaTalks and, most likely, a full afternoon of playing. At some point, a visit to the games-sales room, to check some used games, an irresistible temptation. Sunday would be mainly unplanned for. Three days, always starting in Aveiro, in the morning, and driving back home by the sunset, with the radio turned on, on an almost deserted road.

And so it was!

Three intense days, filled-in with so many nice conversations, some longer, other shorter, around tables with boards and tokens, or a mere cup of coffee. Talking about games, naturally, past, present, and future, creations, and projects, possible collaborations. Reunions and new acquaintances. From the digital world to the physical one. From the written words to the spoken ones. From emojis to laughter. With that prevailing feeling that, after all, we've known each other for a long time!

A few are likely to be missing here, but it's worth taking the risk. Thanks Bruno Ribeiro, Pedro Kerouac, João Pimentel, Micael Sousa, João Neves, Uli Blennemann, Citie Lo, Karthik Setty, Marc Gerdts, Carlos e Sónia Sousa, Manuel e Dina Silva, Mariano Inannelli, Rodolfo Gomes, Hugo Marinho e Rita Jesus, Carlos Ramos, Carlos Martinho, Luís Costa, Carlos Santos, Pedro Silva, André Santos, Paulo Soledade, Nuno Santos.

Plan for 2023: the complete experience, with night-time games and overnight included!

13 February 2022

A Coffee with Pessoa


What about a cup of Coffee with Pessoa (literally meaning person)?

Coffee as drink, made from grains sourced in distant lands. Coffee harvested, dried, roasted, ground in advance or just in time. Coffee as place, coffee shop, café. A meeting point for people. Maybe just to meet with oneself, or maybe with several selves, those that may have been, those that are, and the ones that may come in alternate futures.

A person surnamed Pessoa, with Fernando as first name. Pessoa that is not one, but many. Some, such as Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, or Ricardo Reis, more familiar than others. Strolling between cafes and bookstores. Writings, and readings, with a cup by their side, the scent hovering, a comforting feeling.

Café and Pessoa go well together!

These are also the name of two games just arrived, by courtesy of the Portuguese publisher Pythagoras. Games with points of contact, more than one would figure at first sight: created by Portuguese authors, who have been asserting themselves in the national and international boardgame community, and deriving inspiration from Portuguese themes and motives; featuring beautiful art work by Marina Costa, of whom I have now become a fan; in both you can find the renowned Lisbon cafés, Martinho da Arcada and A Brasileira, and also the very own Fernando Pessoa; and the two can be savored solo or shared in small groups, as also happens with that moment for a cup of coffee, or with the pleasure of reading.

Here's an appetizer, fresh out of the box.

Anyone who knows me knows I drink several coffees a day. Not that I am an expert on the grain varieties, blends, and processes. It begun as a so-called social drink, or as an easy and inexpensive order to fulfill a compulsory consumption requirement, in times of university and in places of encounter, study, or mere pause. In cafés called Palácio, Convívio, and later Bolinão.

In this Coffee, made game, there is a card related to another Café made Place. One in my hometown, which is also known as the cradle of the nation. The card bears the inscription Guimarães, 1953, date of establishment of Café Milenário, located at the entrance of Largo do Toural, next to the section of the ancient wall with the famous inscription "Portugal was born here", and whose name celebrates the remote origins of the city, a thousand years before, around 953. Milenário is still in operation, with its characteristic round glass-top tables, over an elegantly curved tripod and accompanied by wooden slat chairs. The clientele is still predominantly composed by local men. The topics of the day, the headlines, the politics, and of course, football, will continue, no doubt, to be the main topics for the conversations. 

The Café-Game comes in a small box, 18 x 13 cm, making it easy to take anywhere, even to a Café-Place. It is true that a small round table will only give room enough for a solo play, perhaps with a Coffee-Drink for company, replacing the daily newspaper.

But what is the game all about? Well, you have to run your own coffee operation, producing the grain, drying, roasting, storing and distributing it. All this considering the four varieties of coffee in play, the different needs of each destination coffee shop, and the importance of establishing and optimizing the entire value chain. It is far more challenging than it may look, as placing each card, the main and almost unique element of the game, opens up new perspectives of action, while simultaneously shutting others down, by partially overlapping previous cards.

A look at the rulebook, and at the components, allows to understand why this game has been so well received: quite original, by the way cards are used; a streamlined rule set, which is learned and explained in just a few minutes; and plenty of challenging choices.

It's time to give it a try, firstly in solo mode, then accompanied. In the meantime, you may want to look at a playthrough, by Richard Ham, better known as Rahdo, with all the characteristic enthusiasm!

This is not my first contact with games created by the duo Rôla and Costa.

In 2019, at Leiria Con, I had the privilege of being able to experience, by the hand of Rôla himself, Yinzi, then just published by Spielworxx, in a refined production and with an extraordinary work of illustration by Harald Lieske. This is an economic game, quite complex, full of interconnected processes and tight timing, where players are producing, transporting, and shipping goods, in the China of the Ming dynasty. It fits well among those games labelled "heavy", requiring progressive learning, and a good couple of hours to play.

A few months later, I had the opportunity to translate another games designed by this duo, 6 Castles, for the Portuguese publisher Pythagoras. A return to medieval times, in Portuguese lands, in the the region of Idanha-a-Nova, seeking to promote its development, in the shadow of the protective line of castles, six of them.

Now Café just came up, and it is begging to hit the table. Three games, three very different proposals. Looking forward to the next creations!

"I thought: the bloke isn’t going to turn up. And then I thought: I can’t call him a ‘bloke’, he’s a great poet, perhaps the greatest poet of the twentieth century, he died years ago, I should treat him with respect or, at least, with deference. ". In Requiem, by Antonio Tabucchi.

Yes, Pessoa finally arrived, later than anticipated, by circumstances inherent to this interconnected world, in times of manufacture in China, pandemic, and disturbances in the global logistics chains.

He arrived, and he did not came alone, because in Pessoa-Game the challenge is nothing less than to assume the role of one of four heteronyms, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, Bernardo Soares, or Ricardo Reis. We will wander, in search of inspiration, represented by cards containing excerpts from their works, by Cafés-Places, such as A Brasileira or Martinho da Arcada. We will venture into the bookstore, to collect shelves full of books, sipping in the writing of others and expanding our library. We will write poems in the middle of Rossio Square, giving body to the work that will remain for posterity. We will sometimes alternate between the "I" of Pessoa and the "I" of the heteronym, between Person and Character made Person! 

With pauses to rest and recharge, with time to take advantage of the influence of astral maps, seeking to develop the styles most suitable to our heteronym, among Naturalism, Classicism, and Futurism, or addressing the book Message, there is much to explore. But time will soon come to an end, as in 1935 the poet dies, vanishing, and with him all his other selves, marking the end of the game. But their works will prevail!

Have a peek at the way Rahdo absorbed the theme and handled the game, no more than a week ago.

This was a long-awaited game. Not because I am a profound connoisseur of the work of Pessoa and the work of all the heteronyms. I may feel greater affinity with Álvaro de Campos, perhaps by the shared training in engineering and the fascination with skills and machines. Awaited not only for having such a delightful theme, for the notorious passion of Orlando Sá for this great writer, or for the way of incorporating so many traits into the game, reasons thaat would be more than enough. But it was eagerly awaited because I had the privilege of following and of taking a small part in the final phase of development, testing, analysing, and discussing. The arrival of the finished game, completed, illustrated, going far beyond concepts, sketches, and prototypes, is a very special moment! Perhaps only comparable to making it known to others!

Fortunately, these are moments that have been reoccurring! 

This was another short voyage in the company of Orlando Sá. We first came across through an exchange of messages in a Facebook group, when I knew little about his work: only that he had designed Porto, and I don't think I had even heard of his previous foray into these worlds, with Adamastor.

This was shortly followed by the invitation to participate in Rossio's playtests, and it was a pleasure to discover the way he worked on these games, dealing with themes of Portuguese inspiration, always looking for new challenges, increasingly sophisticated and demanding.

Then, there was a small collaboration, on proofreading and translating, for a project made in the early pandemic stages: Paper Roll & Write. A humoroustic approach, based on dice rolling and tracing off spaces in a sheet of paper, inspired by the news of hoarding toilet paper that then circulated! A project authored by Orlando, by Pedro Kerouac and André Santos.

And, afterwards, Pessoa begun to emerge. Once again I was involved in the final stages of playtesting and polishing. I was drawn from the start by the risky theme and the originality of the approach. 

Well, I hear there is no shortage of new ideas in development, so it is with great curiosity that I am looking forward hearing news about the next few projects!

5 November 2021

In the eyes of others


Three years of blogging In Black and White.
Three years of immersion in the world of games. 
Collaborating with game designers, publishers, and so many more inhabitants of this world.
Translating, proofreading, writing, narrating, photographing, playtesting, analysing, reflecting, suggesting. 

As mirrors distort my gaze, I decided to resort to the sight of others. 
Here are some perspectives on what I have been doing. 

Over the last couple of years, Miguel has offered his help with the final editing and proofing stages of a number of rulebooks I have worked on. He has a great attention to detail and his comments and feedback have been extremely useful in helping give the final touches to a rulebook. I always look forward to Miguel being involved in any project I am working on and have recommended him to other publishers. Paul Grogan, Gaming Rules!, United Kingdom.

Hemos trabajado con Miguel en la traducción de varios de nuestros proyectos y no puedo más agradecer su labor como traductor. En cada uno de los juegos que ha traducido se ha implicado totalmente consiguiendo un resultado excelente. En ocasiones, incluso a pesar de contar con tiempos muy ajustados para finalizarlo, siempre ha cumplido con los plazos que manejábamos. No puedo más que recomendar sus servicios a cualquier editor que esté interesado en ver sus juegos publicados en portugués. José Antonio Gómez Garrido, Director Editorial del Grupo MasQueOca, Spain.

Há dois anos que colaboro com o Miguel no desenvolvimento de jogos. Tenho a honra de ter o Miguel como um dos meus playtesters, tendo a nossa colaboração começado com o Rossio e estendeu-se até ao Pessoa (que será editado este ano). Enquanto playtester o Miguel é criterioso e organizado (o que facilita muito a vida do designer) e acima de tudo curioso e perspicaz, fazendo comentários, apontando problemas e sugerindo soluções que enriquecem os seus playtests. É um prazer trabalhar com o Miguel no desenvolvimento de jogos. Orlando Sá, Game designer, between Belgium and Portugal.

Miguel’s unique approach to writing has always made his articles an interesting read. When it comes to covering board games he creates a narrative that continues to flow throughout the article, making me feel like I’m not just reading about a game, but on a journey. It’s incredibly engaging and keeps me coming back for more. Frank West, The City of Games, United Kingdom.

Miguel is a very diligent and structured person who has helped us on different projects in varying stages of development. He has a strong analytical sense, asks the right questions, makes wonderful suggestions for possible improvements, and knows how to prepare documents in such a way, that other parties in the project can work with them at ease. He is also simply a wonderful person to work together with and he is always open to doing a video call. I am looking forward to finally meeting in person some day! We have had the pleasure to work together with Miguel on multiple boardgame projects so far – and I am sure many will follow. Patrick Gebhardt, VUCA Simulations, Germany.

Miguel takes care of all the Portuguese translations for The Geeky Pen. He's very professional, punctual and attentive to detail. His vast experience as a board gamer is a big advantage when it comes to localizing games for us. Jo Lefebure, The Geeky Pen, Belgium.

I’m very honored and humbled that Miguel Conceição translated Pavlov’s House into Portuguese. Through his translation, he allowed a whole new audience to enjoy the game. Miguel Conceição is a fantastic playtester. During the development process for Lanzerath Ridge, Miguel provided exemplary feedback and was extremely communicative. It was a pleasure to collaborate with him, and I look forward to partnering with him again in the future. David Thompson, Game designer, United Stated of America.

Working with Miguel really helped to push the quality of our rulebook to a next level. We even had comments from our Polish fanbase (the game was originally published only in Poland), that the English rulebook is a lot better than the Polish one! Mateusz Kupilas, designer and publisher of IT Startup, Poland.

It is a pleasure working with Miguel. He´s an experienced gamer with a keen eye for detail. You´d wish there are more people like Miguel in our wonderful hobby. Uli Blennemann, Spielworxx, Germany.

I’ve been working with Miguel this year for my first board game project. He wrote the entire narrative of the game with his special twist, which mixes pure narrative aspects with real game experience and components. I found his job excellent and perfect to trigger curiosity and immersion to engage the audience. Moreover, his professional ethics is very solid, he always respects deadlines and delivers excellent quality pieces of work. Finally, Miguel is a very easy person, passionate in his work and always willing to clearly communicate any detail about his work, making the whole process very enjoyable. Ugo Tomasello, designer of Ynaros Fallin’ (to be released in 2022), PeekWik Dreams, Italy.

Trabajar con Miguel ha sido muy satisfactorio. Es un profesional, que es lo que se consigue cuando se aúna el rigor y la pasión. Jordi Samaniego, 2 Tomatoes, Spain.

I met Miguel on Twitter a few years ago when I was working on the rulebook proofreading for my first board game back in 2019. He was extremely kind to a total internet stranger and graciously gave me a lot of feedback on the rulebook which helped shape it to become the completed product it is today. Fast forward two years and my game has officially been funded via Kickstarter and I sent him a review copy to check out. He messages me a month or so later to tell me that the review is live. I was blown away by the sheer effort he put into the writing on his blog post. It felt as if I was living inside the world of my board game and could picture myself both simultaneously playing my game and living inside the game world at the same time. If any of you reading this is a game designer, I highly recommend you let Miguel take a look at your prototype or even finished product. You won't regret it. Wonmin Lee, designer and publisher of Welcome to Sysiphus Corp, United States of America.

I’ve worked with Miguel on the translation of our very first game Whales Destroying the World. He was very professional and delivered well-done work in a short time, which helped our Kickstarter campaign a lot. He also went the extra mile and helped us promote the game on social media, which is something I am very grateful for. The campaign was a success and Miguel’s help cannot be overlooked. Petr Vojtêch, Time Slug Studio, Czech Republic.

Para mí ha sido un placer colaborar con Miguel Conceição en el desarrollo de mi juego de mesa Moon. Miguel tradujo al portugués del manual de Moon teniendo en cuenta tanto la versión en inglés como la versión en castellano del manual para no perder ningún detalle y mejorar la legibilidad en portugués. Además, la comunicación durante el proceso fue muy fluida y las sugerencias de cambios por ambas partes fueron muy bien recibidas. Recomiendo totalmente trabajar con Miguel, ¡un trabajo excelente! :) Pablo Garaizar, Game designer, Spain.

Miguel invited me and I'm happy to present me in his wonderful blog as designer of a coming game "Limits to growth", where Miguel works with me as game developer. It is a honour for me, in my first game design, to have found a publisher and developer really interested in this game theme. I think Miguel by his side is also involved and very interested in environmental themes. With his very structured help, I'm very hopeful this project will reach soon it's end, although a lot of work has still to be done! David Strobl, Designer of Limits to Growth (coming in 2022), Germany.

Thanks for your time!
Tanks for the incentive!
Thanks for the opportunities! 

24 October 2021

Welcome to the Office!

Game copy kindly provided by Wonmin Lee, designer and publisher of Welcome to Sysifus Corp, for the writing of the story you will find below. It arrived with some coupons! Therefore, if you live in the USA, check below on how to enter the raffle to get one of four 20% discount coupons on the game! 

My first contact with Wonmin Lee dates back from two years ago, almost to the day. It was October 2019, and I had the chance to make some comments to the rulebook then available. Fast (or not so fast) forward one year, and the game was getting ready to hit Kickstarter, being subsequently funded. 

This September, Sysifus Corp was released. And soon after, the hunt for new dedicated and ambitious collaborators started! Now, let me tell you of my time as an employee at Sysifus Corp...

Those days, filled with hopes, delusions, and disappointments, are still fresh in my memory. And I keep finding traces of those moments scattered all around the house, just like this crumpled paper, lurking behind the desk. I must have missed the paper bin shot that day…

I vividly remember receiving “the” letter, signed by The Bosses! It read “Dear Employee”, and that was me! “It is with great pleasure and pride that we welcome you to the great Sysifus Corp Family (…)”. I had made it! 

A couple of weeks before, I was searching for a job. Then, I came across an advert from Sysifus, with its clean and minimalist look, the plain-white background, and the geometric shapes in purple, green, and red. I have heard of them before, nothing very specific, as far as I recall, but with a striking aura of being a fast-growing company, involved in some big stuff. Only much later I came to realise the precise positioning of those shapes, the cube pushing the cylinder over the pyramid, and how all of that was telling.

But let me not shortcut the account. The job seemed to be a pretty good fit for my skills, and the prospects of a rocketing career made the rest. In no time I was carefully polishing a motivation letter and upgrading my résumé. One must maximize their chances, and every tiny little detail may make the difference, in the end! Not long after, I received the confirmation letter.

Together with the letter, a welcome pack! You can tell of the work of the Marketing and the Human Resources departments: a New Employee Welcome Manual, covering all the basics of the daily routines; an Office Politics Cards Reference Index, detailing those more obscure policy aspects; and an Employee Datasheet, to keep track of daily actions and filled with small helpful notes.

The company motto, “Pushing our way to the top”, was ever-present, and I was already dreaming of reaching the top, even before having started!

I cannot deny there were also some intriguing aspects. For once, there are three bosses, not one. Then, there was that small reference to me as an “integral cog of the company", something I was not expecting within this grand and ambitious vision. I assumed it meant one starts small, before being able to change gears. Lastly, but not least, I was addressed as a mere number, Employee #318996, in the Reference Index. A bit too impersonal, but, who knows, more efficient.

Nothing too worrisome, I thought. 
Nothing that would quench my enthusiasm! 

Day 1 has arrived, and there I was, at 8 am sharp, in the Sysifus Corp lobby. Small surprise, there were other three new employees, ready to take the new hire orientation. Let’s call them Jane, Joe, and John, as I don’t want to disclose their true identity, for reasons that later will become clear.  

Soon after we were handed colourful bright new outfits, easily identifying us as newcomers, for the entire company, while telling each one of us apart from each other. I got the red one.

Then came some good news and bad news. Starting with the good ones. We would be working on several projects, starting to build our career paths. That should lead us to meet each and every one of the Bosses, and to get recognition for our achievements. Sounds great! Then, the shock: The four of us will be competing for a single promotion opportunity. The rising tension and the nervous glances were palpable! On the back of my mind, I still hear the words, “We do not need underachievers.

This will be no walk in the park, pardon, office!

The daily tasks were briefly presented to us by our supervisor, although this may be too much of a label, as we were, essentially, on our own from the start. 

So, we will be fulfilling projects, moving around the office from project to project, placing memos, doing research, aiming to visit the bosses, each one of them. The daily working hours were to be distributed among three tasks, no more. Nothing too fancy, nor overcomplicated. And that is good, because we would be racing each other.

Besides, we were given some leeway, regarding the way to go. I felt comfortable with that, not having to adhere to a very strict routine, to obey orders and instructions all the time, to deeply rely on the other newcomers, ex-colleagues-to-be, now fierce competitors. 

The first projects to choose from. 

That’s a good feeling!

Ready, set, go.

And here we go. Here I go! Place. The first project I started. Move. My first steps around the office. Place again, move again, or do some research. First choices. The very beginning of my career path, both metaphorically and literally, as we roam across different sections of the office, one step closer to one of the Bosses and to the final Performance Review.

Things are getting busy, as we are four ambitious employees, and there is no time to lose. Jane and Joe went left, and they are sharing the same project for the moment. John is still behind, but no doubt he too will soon be running.

There are things I should tell you about projects, and which have not been disclosed to us in advance. Well, not entirely true, had you carefully read the Welcome Manual… But, well, let’s move on.

Once you embark in a project, you become part of the team and get some influence within the company. You are doing useful work and you are starting to get noticed. But beware, not all the projects are the same. Some will get you more influence than others, some will get you no influence at all. Inversely, some projects will open doors towards more directions than others, offering increased opportunities. You must choose wisely, balancing influence and progression.

Another note: all projects are Corp projects and not your own ones. Therefore, all employees have open access to all running projects, and thus obtain the corresponding company influence, regardless of who started the project. Project access is only physically restricted, that is, you must be able to enter the project section.

Having done some research, during this workday, it really opened up the world of Office Politics to me. You should know this is something that I am not very good at... But I realise it is a skill I must develop really fast, should I want to stand a chance of getting the promotion.

Then, there is also the lingo of politics, and causes, consequences, and collateral damage. Each action entails a cost, be it in company influence, as actions are not necessarily popular, in politics, compromising future actions, or even in both. There are different uses for Office Politics, affecting projects, employees, other actions, or even as a reaction to other employees. There are effects and upgraded effects. 

All this will take some time to master, but time is scarce…

Follow the sticky notes, they said. From project to project. No fancy management software to keep track of projects and to mark the routes; just a bunch of sticky notes to guide you around!
That came as a surprise, in such a front runner company, but it is perhaps by doing things differently that they have been successful. I quickly adapted to the sticky method. Place new projects carefully, check notes, manipulate projects, re-check notes, if necessary, move, monitor the competition, keep moving, don’t stop.

Sometimes you seem to be blocked. It is then the time to use your memo sticker, as a substitute for sticky notes. Beware, though, they are as precious as they are scarce. Resources are tightly managed and getting new ones will cost you some workday time.

All was going kind of fine, until I was suddenly pushed back. Someone stole the credit of my work! John did it! 

As a result, I was allocated to another project, the career path I was pursuing got disrupted, and I am now one step further behind the competition, and farther from the Boss. I felt the sting of Office Politics being used to hinder my progression. 

Now you may start to realise why I did not disclose the true identity of my former colleagues: things were about to get nasty, and this was just the beginning! Ok, if that is the way to go, let's play ball! Let’s see who can stand the heat!

It took me some hard workdays, going back and forth and fighting the competition, to finally meet one of the Bosses. That was a first!

As a recognition for my dedication to the company, I was handed a Certificate of Achievement, and I was able to choose an extra permission to use to my advantage. Still feeling the pain of the earlier backstabbing by John, I decide to go for the Office Politics, hence selecting the possibility to do extra research.

Feeling empowered by the Boss was a sweet feeling, but I was well aware we are all chasing the same goal, walking similar paths, and with no free dinners on the menu. 

One Boss checked, two more to go, before running towards the final Performance Review. 

Some days have passed, and a lot of work was accomplished, while moving between different projects. 

You literally run over projects to gain company influence and to reach the Bosses. You use all the company influence you get to manipulate the situation in your favour, to hinder progression of the three J’s, to get in the fast lane for progression. 

Things are getting chaotic. There are no allies, at most tactical arrangements to avoid a running away leader. 

Office Politics are ever-present. More times than I can count, I was pushed back, not to square one, but having to retrace in my footsteps, and to change my career track, again and again. That is when days started to look all alike. Project, move, research, memo, politics. Research. Politics. Move. Politics. Project. Politics. Politics. Politics.
“The key to a successful career in the corporate world is knowing how to utilize office politics”, The 1%.

I started to think in engaging in subversive manoeuvres, using some extreme office politics. Things such as inserting my own opinion, who would have imagined that! Or fanning the flames and watch things burn. Wild things as to form a clique, to achieve critical disruptive mass and shake the establishment. I even considered reporting to HR, or even just slacking off.

I will not lie. I resorted to some of those tactics, in an attempt to feel some kind of normality, or fairness. To no avail.

Suddenly, I was able to understand why the company bears the name of Sysifus Corporation! You know I am not that versed in ancient history, but I remember there was that guy…, Greek, I think…, with a similar name. He had a kind of an office in a mountain, and projects in the form of a boulder. Pushing his way to the top, only to come back down. Going up, and down again, without ending. Fact or fiction, it doesn’t matter. It feels pretty real to me, now.

I started to have a recurrent dream with the company logo! Yes, that’s right, the company logo! You see, there is a cube, in red, the colour of my suit, pushing a purple cylinder, all the way up a green pyramid.

I did it to the end. 

I survived, but not unscathed.

I didn’t get the coveted promotion.

I do not want to be a “cog of your great company”. 

Sisyphus no more.

I quit!


If you live in the USA, comment on this post to get a chance of winning one of the four 20% discount coupons available. Enter until November 19. Winners announced on November 20.

For more information on the game check Sysifuscorp or BGG.

To read more stories in the blog check the tag Storytelling.

15 August 2021

Canvas Mod: Let them dry!


It is fun experimenting with games, trying out different approaches, creating new rules, multiplying the possibilities, unfolding new challenges. Moving beyond playing the game as it is, to gaming the game! Perhaps some of those paths have crossed the mind of the designers, maybe only to be dismissed, tweaked, or replaced, who knows? 

On this occasion we will further explore Canvas, by proposing a slightly modified version. If you are not familiar with the game, you may want to take a look at Painting on Canvas, to learn the basics and get a glimpse of its gorgeous art.

In Canvas you start by gathering motifs, to then select three of them, and fully complete a painting in just one go. 

Let us take a step back and imagine ourselves inside the atelier, looking at the canvas, picking up a motif, and painting a first layer. Then, we pause for a moment, looking at the work in progress. As the first layer is completed, it is now time to let it dry properly, before continuing. Ah, but there is time to make use of, the imagination keeps flowing, and the brushes still want to move on. So, why not to start another painting in the meantime? And another one? And then, go back to the first one, and start another round, painting layer after layer in the various works.

This painting on the go, in succession, simultaneously creating several works, is the underlying principle of Let them dry. The mod will only require minor changes to the original rules. 

Increased number of backgrounds

You start with 5 background cards, since you will be completing five paintings, instead of three. 

This will increase your chances of making sound motifs' combinations, as you will be painting on the go, without reserving them for later.  

Pick and paint

Select the motif you wish to paint from the display, spending inspiration tokens as appropriate, just as in the original game. 

Immediately painting it onto one of the backgrounds of your choice.

You will no longer be able to gather motifs to later use them, or to avoid others from using them!

Let them dry

Repeat the process in your next turn, with one restriction: you may not apply the brand-new layer onto the same painting, as you must let the first one dry! So, choose another of your backgrounds and start a new painting. You may never choose the same painting twice in a row.

If you want to take this a step forward, only start adding a second layer upon completing the first one in all the five works in progress!

Select your works for the exhibition

You will only score three of your paintings, just the same as in the original game. 

Therefore, you must choose which ones you will put up to the competition.

Then, use the standard scoring rules and find out who best met the competition criteria.

This is Let them dry! Give it a try! 
And feel free to comment on your experience.

There are many other paths to explore, just follow your imagination. You may want to play with the scoring system, for instance by ranking the paintings under each assessment criteria and scoring positions instead of absolute values. Or you may even dare into game mixing, combining Canvas and Dixit, or Canvas and Modern Art (one I have yet to try). A world of choices!

For other Mod proposals, check here.