Gen Con Interview with Justin Gary of Stone Blade Entertainment
Day 1 of Gen Con has been an absolute whirlwind. It feels like 3 days have already gone by. But no, it’s just one. The show is a great time to sit down with some of the game companies in attendance and find out what they’ve been working on. One that I’ve been visiting a couple years in a row has been Justin Gary, the President of Stone Blade Entertainment (SBE). Ascension is on of my favorite games and one that I play most-often. So it’s always great to try and pry bits of information about what’s coming up for it. But it’s not just Ascension this year from Stone Blade. We’ve got Bad Beets. Not only did I get a little info about the game, I got a full demo. Check out below to see how the game plays.
Starting out, Justin said that this is the most exciting year yet for Stone Blade Entertainment. Looking at the properties that have been SBE’s bread and butter, Ascension and SolForge, both have been getting some love. For Ascension, they are on the 3rd edition of the game. There’s a new base-box game. It has all-new art as well as cleaned up and clarified rules. The cards are easier than ever to read and understand how they work. This fall there will also be a “Year 2” set like they did with Year 1, where they’ll put out all the cards that came out in the second year of the game’s existence.
Looking forward from there, Ascension will be getting a new “Big box” expansion. Justin describes it as having “dramatic effects” that will change how the game plays. He also says it’s for “hardcore gamers.” Ascension has sometimes been lamented as being a bit “simple.” It sounds like this new expansion will change all of that.
Here at the show is a new mini-release. This is the Location Pack. They operate in an interesting way. They are shuffled into the Center Deck like the rest of the cards. When they come out into the Center Row, they permanently alter the slot that they are placed in. This will change up how the Center Row effects cards as they’re played, purchased, or fought. I picked up this copy for myself, since, as I mentioned, I’m an Ascension fanatic.
SolForge players have the actual main release of the game to look forward to soon. Currently, the game is still in Beta, but that will be coming to an end. The final tweaks to abilities, wordings, and artwork will be set and you can really get your gaming on with the official release of the game.
Me being me, I wanted to know a bit more about what Justin has in the works. With a little prying and a little arm-twisting, he let a few things slip. SBE is working on a couple new projects that he can’t tell us fully about, but at least could hint at. One’s a “big” project while the other is a “little” project. Justin is super-excited, and it’s easy to tell. He says that they are a culmination of all his favorite parts of the various games he’s worked on over the years, and that these are things he’s been working on for a couple of those aforementioned years. Stay tuned for details.
Now, on to Bad Beets.
I have to admit, I was a bit dubious going into the demo. Not that I thought I wasn’t going to like the game, but the catch-line of “kids trying to get rid of beets they don’t want to eat” wasn’t doing much for me, personally… probably mostly because I loved when we had beets as a kid! 😛
But with an open mind, I headed up to the demo table to play a game.
Spoilers: I now love this game.
If you’ve played various bluffing/drafting games before like Love Letter or Masquerade, you might see some similarities.
As I mentioned, players are playing as kids sitting at the dinner table and they don’t want to eat their beets. But you gotta get rid of them somehow, because if you do, you get ice cream (everyone always wants ice cream, otherwise you are dead inside). In order to do accomplish this, you have some options.
At the start of the game, everyone is given 8 Beet tokens and a single card. The first player starts out by drawing a card from the deck and playing one of their two cards face-down in front of them, while giving their other card to the player to their left. They then declare their action. The first is that they can simply eat a beet. This is the one “safe” action, as nobody can call your bluff on just eating a beet. This lets you discard 1 Beet Token. The other 3 actions correspond to cards in the deck and let you get rid of more than just a single Beet Token. The first is Share, where you get to pass 2 Beet Tokens to another player. Or you can Feed the Dog, which lets you discard 3 Beet Tokens. Finally, there’s Tattle, which allows you to try and guess which card that player has. If you get it right, you can give that player 4 Beet Tokens from your stack.
So what’s with the face-down-ness of your play? Well, you can claim you’re playing any one of those last 3 as your card that you keep. Obviously, since you’re playing the card face-down, only you know if you’re telling the truth about what card you have. That’s the bluffing aspect of the game. Just because you say you’re doing a certain action, it doesn’t mean you really are.
Other players can call your bluff. If they do, you reveal your card. If your card matches the action you took, you go through with the action and the player that thought you were lying takes a Beet Token from the center. If you were lying about your card, you don’t do the action, and the player that called you on it can get rid of a Beet Token.
Play continues as you gain and lose Beet Tokens.
I actually really enjoyed Bad Beets. I really like quick, simple, easy-to-learn, easy-to-teach, easy-to-play games. A whole game of Bad Beets takes about 15min. You then just shuffle and play again. It’s great for playing in-between playing other games, or just having marathon sessions of. Justin said that this was the first game that he’s walked in on his family playing, and I can see why. Even just watching the demos, there were families playing it together. It really is a game you can have your kids play, as well as involve your more “Serious Gamer” friends and everyone can have a good time.
Stone Blade has also put up a quick instructional video about the game if you’d like to check that out.