Skip to Content

Exciting Project ~ Wode Ridge

Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to serve as Playtester and Editor/Proofreader for Gabe Barrett's newest title, Wode Ridge. Based on his Hunted series/system, this game pits a group of kids ala Stranger Things to find out about the peculiar occurrences taking place around their town.

As a Playtester, I've thoroughly enjoyed my games, thus far. It's difficult, as one should expect from a solo (or coop) title. It's also fast-paced, with a play-time of under 30 min.

As a Proofreader/Editor, my job is to make the words on the page as clear and cogent, as possible Additionally, I'll attempt to make the rules concise and allow the player to quickly get into the game.

Among my 2021 clients, it's been a treat playing this one and revising the rules for a better initial experience.

What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?


Playtesting & Proofreading

It's Wed, and I've completed my third playtest and have worked on the ruleset over the past few days. Here's a primer on what goes on behind the scenes at Professor's Lab...

Playtesting: Depending on the client, I'll spend a few hours to play through their game once or twice or I'll play for one-hour...not with an eye toward finishing the game, but focusing on the elements deemed important enough by the designer. In the case of Wode Ridge I did a bit of both.

I played through three complete games as each game took 25-30 minutes. In addition, I focused my attention on the Boss Fight at the end to determine if it's too strong or too weak (the Goldilocks test). While I won't share my findings here, I highly recommend that you take the time and check out Gabe's HUNTED series.

Proofreading: As a professional editor, I earn a decent living simply because many people struggle with the written word. For designers out here, I strongly suggest finding an editor if you're at all uncomfortable penning a ruleset. Some things that I find ALL the time might help you draft your initial set of rules. Here's my Top 5 list of Rules Errors:

5. Different perspectives ~ pick first or third person, but don't attempt to write both ways as you'll only confuse the reader.

4. Do not ever use acronyms! I come from a wargame background and that genre is understandably notorious for acronyms. In modern Euros, it's wholly unnecessary.

3. Numbers ~ spell them out if they are 9 (or less) and you may use the digit for 10+. I can't tell you how many times I see digits and the numbers spelled out in the same line, especially when it violates the rule (i.e. pick 2 cards and add them to your hand of five cards)

2. Use bullets or lists versus burying items in paragraphs. It makes it much cleaner and neater than a wall of text.

1. Active vs. passive voice! First, it's more concise; second, there leaves (almost) no room for error.

As JoCat (Crap Guides to D&D) would say, "and that's how you become a better rules're welcome!"


Components ~ Wode Ridge

Welcome back! Over the next few days (and possibly a week or so), I'll perform slightly deeper dive into the components of this title. There's a lot here to enjoy so sit back and relax as we check-out the following:

- Player Mat/Board
- Adventure Book
- Evidence Board
- Cards
- Dice & Tokens

This is been a great game to playtest and provide feedback to the designer.


Player Mat/Board

As a gamer, I love a good board, especially one where you can "store" pieces. Last week, I opened a game from my shelf-of-shame, The King's Abbey, an excellent multiplayer or solo experience, in which you're building parts of a great abbey (think Pillars of the Earth). The art is gorgeous and there's a place for each of the wheat, stone, wood, and sand components.

In a similar manner, Gabe's Player Mat (more than the Board) has a place for each of the card decks, the HUNTED row where you reveal cards during the game, a place for an Inventory, and another location for all of the tokens. This makes playing the game much more enjoyable and provides a defined, confined space.

For the designers out here, I offer to you the following. When designing, what do you take into consideration to make it easier for your players? Have you used a Player Mat/Board as a gamer? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, why not?

As always, I'm curious to hear your thoughts. I ask you to post them here instead of PMing me so that others may engage in he conversation.

Professor's Lab

Player Board/Mat ~ Update

So, I've recently gotten Terraforming Mars: Ares Expansion to the table, and I had forgotten that I backed at a level which included this really cool playing may and let me tell you, I absolutely love it! First, it reduces the play area to a confined space which I mentioned previously and second, the colors and design make it a very attractive alternative to having cards all over the place.


Adventure Book

Hello, designers!

Today, I'll discuss the Adventure Book in Wode Ridge.

Like Ryan Laukat's Red Raven Games or Awaken Realms, the idea of a narrative-driven story is more than a decade old in gaming (and arguably has been around much, much longer). In Wode Ridge, you're team of kids racing around the town will have encounters which provide a decision point. Sometimes it's worth the risk, sometimes it's best to retain your precious resources.

The stories are well-written (admittedly, I did not QC this part of the game) and brings life to the characters. I greatly enjoyed my plays of the game and the Adventure Book significantly contributed to my overall positive impression.

Have you played a game with an Adventure Book or a narrative-driven game? What did you like? How was the experience?

Professor's Lab

Wode Ridge's Evidence Board

In this installment, I'll briefly talk about the Evidence Board in Wode Ridge. This clever component serves two main purposes. First, and most importantly, it tracks the player's progress throughout the game. As you receive tile based on the Clues found or Discoveries made, they are placed on the Evidence Board, which also triggers the Adventure Book and its tome of narrative pieces to enhance the experience. Second, it also determines the end game and the Big Boss which the characters will face-off against ~ can the kids of Woe Ridge save their town?

As designers, do you have such a device in your game to assist with forward momentum?

Wode Ridge ~ Cards

Among the games in y library, the lion's share of them have cards...and for many games, there are a lot of cards: more than 1,800 for my entire Arkham Horror game, with all of the expansions; Nemo's War; Race for the Galaxy; and my newest love affair, Terraforming Mars, Ares Expedition.

Cards have played a huge role in my life, having learned a great many games from my mother's family, especially my grandmother and my great uncle, including Spite & Malice, Consecutive, and a host of other titles which we played around the kitchen table. She would have no idea the ubiquity of cards in games decades later.

In Wode Ridge, designer Gabe Barrett hasn't broken any new ground, but he uses the idea of cards to move the narrative forward in a clever way. The larger poker-sized cards can be used for their icons to advance the characters in a particular direction, provide additional equipment or clues, or gain access to allies. The smaller cards serve as equipment or allies which aid the characters on their quest to determine the monster lurking around the town. In addition, the card , depending on which side is face-up, presents the characters in the real world or the "upside down."

Overall, the use of cards is great for designers a you they are an inexpensive medium with which you can provide a ton of content for your games.

Have you used cards in your game design? How did you use them? Why did you use them? If you haven't why not?


BTW how is the "secret shoppe project" coming along???

I couldn't help but notice that there is an Air Base in Dover... Funny I also saw that there is a Tim Hortons at that base... I don't know if it is open to the public or strictly for Air Base Personnel. I think I remember you telling me that you were (in the past) part of the Air Force, no?!

All that information just to check it out (if possible). I don't know exactly what part of Delaware you are settling in.

The best to your "secret shoppe project" ... Because I know you both are GOOD people. You can e-mail me if you prefer or PM me a response... I was just wanted to congratulate you on the shared "secret shoppe project". Depending on Location maybe you should visit that Tims in the Dover Air Base. Maybe just to get some ideas...

IDK pricing in the USA... But for $2.05 we get a Medium cup of coffee. Now for an Ice Cap we pay $3.45 ... And it is half ice, some cream and the rest coffee... You pay $1.40 extra for ICE. Now that is some serious "smart" business ... Pay more for ICE and use less coffee!

Cheers Joe!

Note #1: I on a more personal note visited warehousing facilities in the event that I import product from China. More work to be done on that front... Got my 1st estimate from China, going to be working on the 2nd estimate soon (Packaging Estimate). I'm doing my best to make some planning and see how things work out (as a ballpark estimate), I'm sure things will probably cost more in the end. But this will be my first project ON MY OWN!

Ah I had a better look...

And it seems like the Tim Horton's is ON the "Air Base". Which means that the Tims is off-limits to private citizens (I think)! Maybe with your special clearance ... You could visit the Air Base and the TIMS. I know there are pros and cons with establish brands.

From one point of view you don't need to worry about menus and always needing to worry about what needs to be cooked.

From the other point of view you need to follow the proper set-up and there are pre-established products to sell.

There are pros and cons for both... Just a matter of seeing what works best ... Cheers!

Enjoyed Tim Horton's!


I fondly remember buying coffee from Tim's when in Canada about a half-dozen times. As to pricing, the prices you quoted are about half of what you can expect to pay, especially at an independent establishment with an actual barista (not the buttonology trained Starbucks employee in an apron), and it's in dollars!

Food establishments serving on base can prove less useful for cost estimates as they are often, but not always, heavily subsidized by the Department of Defense to get them onto the installation.

Thanks for the well-wishes and hope to have more dialogue with what appears to be only a handful of BGDF designers anymore on the site.


Good to know that the US Government has GREAT TASTE! LOL

I figured that they may get some support in running the business on the Air Base. Makes 100% sense. Their meals are easy to cook and pack more punch than MacDonalds. But you have all-day breakfast food and some Panini for lunch... Plus they also make good SOUP on those colder days... The Cream of Broccoli or Cream of Mushroom soup are real nice. Chicken noodle is good too... Soups are great through the colder month and are very "hardy" as a meal appetizer.

You're right about the handful of regulars... But it's been really quiet this last week. Only a handful of threads (like 3!) Wondering why!?

Could be people being outdoors with this heat wave and end of summer weather... Sure there may be an Indian Summer in September with some hot weather... But this previous week was REALLY HOT!

Keep me updated about your "secret shoppe project"... I'd like to know what your plans are. Are we talking simple comfort food or purely drinks or are you more towards a lunch menu from like 1 to 3 PM. There are so many ways you can go... It's a matter of finding patrons that will like your establishment and having a bit of a following.

Anyways can wait to hear WHAT are some of you guys' plans.

And knowing that the Tim Horton's is on the Air Base, means that MOST civilians won't have access... Which is great because it means less competition (at least in terms of this sort of shoppe).

Cheers (and I wonder where everyone disappeared to also?!)

Note #1: I also forgot to mention DESERT. Some places like Rockaberry feature pies, cakes and mousses. That's another direction too... Focus on treating the pallet to something sweet! I know you guys are probably trying to work out what is best. And having low waste is also important... If you can distinguish yourselves with a community-focus and ensure that there is very little waste ... That kind of low footprint could also really add a lot of "credibility".

Not a secret shoppe


So, we're tied in with the Claymont Redevelopment Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, and the builders in the area. We've been quite vocal with our desire to serve the community.

We'll be open 7-4 on weekdays and 8-3 on weekends. We'll have exciting breakfast offerings as the other places around us aren't open until 11. As for our lunch and afternoon offerings, we'll have a number of Asian Fusion dishes. Our professionally trained chef has worked for some of the biggest restaurants in Philly.

Finally, we'll have 50-100 board games for folks to check out as well!

Wow that sounds terrific!

Are you residing in that area or is this only for the wonderful shoppe??? This sort of reminds me of the "Randolph Pub" on St-Denis in Montreal. The Randolph Pub prides itself as not only having a LARGE catalog of games... There are "ANIMATORS" which interact with the patrons... To help them figure out the game best suited for your group.

These individuals have not only PLAYED many of the games, they also have great memory when it comes to figuring out what the crowd may like in terms of games to play.

I'm not saying you need to have a such person... But if they can maybe do a "dual" role like helping out at Bartending (helping out serving drinks) or waiter/waitress (helping out the remainder of the staff) ... They can get a better pay and at the same time HELP your staff...

I've seen such individuals at the "Randolph Pub" and one was working as a Bartender Assistant (plus his duties were to interact with the patron to help figure out what games they may LIKE to try/play).

Again just a consideration. As you take the business from concept to reality to serving the community... You'll see as your business matures, you may want to seek out such individuals.

They also have skills such as "explaining" HOW-TO play a game ... So they are wise with ripe knowledge when it comes to knowing not only what is in the library of games... But also the rules to the games.

I'm just sharing with you information. Like I said, I've met a few of these individuals (probably a half-dozen). If you WONDER where to FIND such individuals... They usually they LEAD their "Friendly Local Game Store" (FLGS) in the area when it comes to board games. I know in one group there are 3 to 4 of these people who come to mind. I don't know if you have any FLGS in the neighboring area... But you could search for ONLINE MEETUPS (I know it is BAD because of COVID-19)... But there are normally some groups in many areas and if not direct maybe not too far away...

Something to consider as your business blooms!

Sounds terrific to me... Wishing you all the best of success. BTW the Randolph pub charges $8 CAD a head when you enter. This includes full access to any of the games ... But food is extra and many people order non-alcoholic drinks like coffees and soft drinks. Again just sharing information...

I think part of that $8 CAD is used to pay for the "animators" too! Again just sharing info.


Note #1: And BTW I am not suggesting that you charge for entry... For a small shoppe that could be detrimental to its growth. But the "Randolph Pub" is known by the Board Game community ... And so they can afford to charge $8 CAD in a highly "commercial area" St-Denis is like St-Laurent lots of restaurants and such.

But I realize that $32 CAD for a party of 4 people is EXPENSIVE. That could in some instances be the price of a meal too! Anyways you get my drift... I'm just wanted to share with you some of how OTHER people are profiting from the Board Game scene.

Note #2: For the "Randolph Pub" they are on prime real-estate so I'm positive that their RENT is VERY HIGH. So higher rent, prime area and such... You can figure out why it's $8 CAD a head! They used to charge $5 CAD a head... But I guess with COVID-19 everything is going UP in price! Some of these pubs/bistros need to re-coup some money from the closures... So I can understand the rise in per head price.

Note #3: I wanted to share a link... But the ENTIRE website is in FRENCH and there is NO ENGLISH version. Here's the link anyhow:

Sorry maybe you can use Google Translate maybe (or you may know some French)?!


Actually, Ping and I bought a house in July which will be my forever house at this point. It's a 1/4 mile from the café, so I nice short walk to work in the future.

I'll serve as the cafe's Game Guru ("guru" in Indonesian actually means teacher) on Saturday and Sunday. When I finally move to the area, I try to negotiate a 4x10hr work week and take the Friday to work in the café. When that happens, I can put my teaching board game skills to the test, especially as we'll have wi-fi and a place for students to hangout after school. I first met these types of assistance at Snakes & Lattes about four years ago and absolutely loved the idea of assisting new gamers into the hobby. As for charging folks...we'll have to see.


Dice & Tokens

Hello, BGDF Fans!

Today, I'll spend a few moments on the Dice & Tokens for Wode Ridge. I enjoy dice...period. s a 35+ year RPGer and a legendary DM, I absolutely love throwing bones. Now, if you add icons to dice you've effectively turned it up to 11! In Wode Ridge, you need to make checks to satisfy certain requirements...think Elder Sign or a host of other dice games where the icons really, really matter. But, to the rescue are a series of tokens which allow you to use them instead of generating that perfect set of symbols or in the case of the reroll, giving it one more shot.

Overall, the inclusion of the tokens was a must...and as a developer for this game, I thoroughly embraced their inclusion. Without them, it would prove much harder of a game and may cause even greater frustration.

With Dice & Tokens now discussed, we end my thread on Wode Ridge, but I'll be back in the not-too-distant future to discuss other games for which I've served as a developer. As always, I enjoy the questions and comments, here on BGDF, over at BGG for the past two years on my blog, or in PMs wherever you can find The Professor.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Syndicate content

blog | by Dr. Radut