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Winner Announced in the Phase Shift Dimensions Challenge!

The Game Crafter - Board Game Design Contest - Phase Shift Dimensions Challenge

We have a winner for the Phase Shift Dimensions Challenge!

We had an absolute blast playing the finalist’s games. Each one was so fundamentally different, which was kinda the point of the contest. Well done to all who entered, and especially to these finalists!

First, our thoughts on each of the finalist entries:

Codename: Hunter:
This cat and mouse game breaks new ground in several ways. First, the setting follows one time traveling human hopping forward through time, attempting to gather all the components necessary to build the very time machine she is using (don’t try to think about it too much - you’ll just cause a paradox!), while the alien hunter agent is traveling BACKWARD through time, attempting to ambush the human wherever she will/may be at that point in time. Very clever setting, and this is executed well through the mechanics. Second, the game is played over just TWO turns - one for the human, then one for the alien. So essentially each player executes their entire strategy in one sitting, and they need not even be in the same room as one another - this is both good and bad, as it creates a new dynamic over traditional board games, but at the same time somewhat removes one of the special aspects that makes board games fun - face to face interaction. At least the second player (Alien Hunter) can take their turn while the Human player observes, so there’s still some moments where the two can take some joy (or pain) in the telling! Regardless, it’s exactly the type of game we wanted to see come out of this contest, and this one does a great job. That said, the game includes 400 cards to represent each coordinate on a 20x20 grid - this is wholly unpublishable in its current form (and in some ways unplayable), and we feel that approach to tracking coordinates MUST be changed for the game to be successful - for us, we changed the system to use a paper and pen for our subsequent playthroughs (then covered with a separate card, uncovering just one row at a time), completely eliminating these 400 cards, which was a tremendous improvement. Bonus points for having well written backstory to fully develop the time traveling theme.

Game Knight:
A faithful “meta-game,” allowing players to add a new layer of strategy to their entire game evening/day by encouraging them to take certain actions within each game they’re playing. A similar game put out by Button Shy (Pretense) does something similar, but Game Knight focuses on specific gameplay mechanics rather than “real-world” events (meaning, in this one you may need to steal a currency from another player, whereas in Pretense you may need to get someone to hand you a rulebook), which we like. On the downside, as with Pretense, we don’t believe there’s enough of a game here to keep people playing this and really “caring” about its outcome. One of our judges was also concerned that it could encourage a player to make a strategically poor choice in one game, just to satisfy this meta-game, possibly ruining the actual game being played. Still, Game Knight executed on its vision well, and of the two games in the genre I would take this one over Pretense (though I now own both!).

Greatest Thief:
This was the most refined game in the contest. Mechanics, balance, strategic choices, depth of play, rulebook, all came together to create an awesome gameplay experience. This is another one where players should not be in the same room as one another while playing, but there are more turns involved so this means you’ll likely be playing over days or weeks. I see this as a game you could play in an office setting with coworkers, or at home if you have a small table somewhere you can leave this up for a while. There’s some common information, so you can still poke and jab at your opponent over lunch or whatever, but then plenty of hidden information to feel like you’re really making some cool decisions that the other player has yet to uncover. We felt there was one balance issue with the Specialists, in that they seemed underpowered - we’d love to see that mechanic refined a little further, but that wouldn’t stop us from playing this very prototype many more times. This game has real potential.

Neotraditional Ama:
The solo game where the core mechanic is how long you can hold your breath - very different! Once we cracked this open and dove in, we quickly discovered that the game is a simple pattern matching game - the faster and more accurately you can match patterns from one card to another (while holding your breath) determines how well you do. The patterns are only challenging to match because they represent a foreign Chinese language (foreign to most of us anyway). You could easily replace the symbols with pictures of animals, and suddenly the game holds no challenge (could you match a penguin to a penguin? I suspect so). So the game is really only a game because most of us don’t know this other language. One could argue, therefore, that the game is more of a learning experience, which could be true to a point. In the end, it fell flat for us. Novel idea with the breath holding mechanic, but underneath it didn’t feel like enough of a game.

Bombers Away:
This two-room game created the exact experience we hoped to see. At its heart it’s a relatively simple social deduction game, but the added dynamics of pairs of people heading into another room to converse, plot, and take semi-secret actions on the central deck are outstanding. Meanwhile, the rest of the group can sit comfortably in a living room, making this a game that can be played in a much more casual setting than a traditional board game. We felt there were just a couple technical flaws that could be improved upon, but the game did exactly what it set out to do, and we absolutely want to see more. To top it off, the game is just a small deck of cards, so it’s nicely portable. This game has mad potential.

And now we’re proud to announce the winners of this contest:

3rd place: Codename: Hunter
2nd place: Bombers Away
1st place: Greatest Thief

To say the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place games were a very close call is the understatement of the year. I want nothing more than to see each of these developed a bit further and then own a copy for myself! Great job to all once again - now go get your game on!!

Jason & Darrin

The official announcement was posted at



Congratulations to the winners!

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blog | by Dr. Radut