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Come play Planet 313 at GENCON 2015

posted Jul 23, 2015, 6:34 AM by John Force

Come play Planet 313 at GENCON 2015 in Indianapolis! 

Hall “D” at the IGA - OPEN DEMO TABLES

July 30 - August 2, 2015

Here is some fun reading about some Playtest Highlights for Planet 313!

 Doing test plays with Planet 313 has been a wild ride.  One day I would feel like I am in the “Fast Lane” and then other days it would seem that I would be “Lost in Space”.  The process of putting an idea out there for people to critique can make you feel vulnerable.  I have a flow chart from "The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design" in my office that shows the steps I use to design a game and it is no coincidence that right before playtest is the “Sweet Spot” where I think that the game is great and I feel good about it. Then the playtest and feedback flows straight into “Get Defensive and Brood” until I am ready to make changes and adapt the feedback into the game and find the “Sweet Spot” again.

Planet 313 has experienced its fair share of sweet spots and brooding opportunities.  And I wanted to share a few highlights-

While at Metatopia 2013 – Doing a “high” test with some publishers my sweet spot was quickly doused.   I came home from the convention with a boat load of suggestions from reputable people in the industry.  After sorting through them all, Planet 313 found the sweet spot again as a better game.  The real game changer was the suggestion from James E to incorporate a “grit” feature.  That one change made a huge difference for several aspects of the game to run smoother and gave us science tokens in the game.  Thanks James.

While play testing with our friends Tom and Valerie J we did the DeBono Six Hats of Thinking exercise to evaluate the game.  That was great fun and the ideas generated from that changed the game again.  The biggest would be removing the event card called “All-out war”, it just had to go!  Thanks Tom and Valerie.

Another lesson learned from test play is the times spent with James B play testing.  He showed me that balance in games (such as ten good cards and ten bad cards) might make it balanced mathematically but not balanced for fun.  Having the game balanced to where it leans toward the goal of getting to Planet 313 with fewer bad cards has piqued the fun factor and increase the excitement getting there with just a little less tension from the game elements.  This saves most of the tension to be the tension that the players create for each other.  Thanks James.

Here are some of the comments from playtesters:

James B says…

Planet 313 has an exciting combination of strategy, luck and a little diplomacy between the players.

You need to manage your ships and the cards in your hand while finding a balanced strategy to account for the other players and event cards.

Game play starts right away and the pace moves steadily with very little downtime.

Planet 313 is a great family game. I’ve really enjoyed playing it with my boys (ages 6 and 10).

The first time my son (age 9 at the time) played, he couldn’t stop talking about it, and since it wasn’t on the market yet he even made his own home-made version of the game that weekend.

Planet 313 is adaptable to be played at multiple strategy levels across all age groups. Depending on everyone’s goals and attitudes, it can go from family fun night or also be ramped up to fulfill a ruthless contest between old-time gaming rivals.

Heather M says…

- Planet 313 keeps you engaged the whole time. It's a race to the finish, but you always have to stay on-guard... just because you have the lead doesn't mean you'll keep it! You never know when an event or another player will find a way to send you back to the launch pad!

- I was this close to winning when my husband drew the card that allowed his last ship to go straight to Planet 313... Needless to say I demanded a rematch!


So if a game designer asks you to playtest a game for them, know that what you have to say to them is painful, helpful, and essential for them to fulfill their dreams of making a game that you would love to play with your friends and family.  So please be kind and honest about what you like and don’t like about the game.

Happy Planet 313 Day!

posted Mar 13, 2015, 10:36 AM by John Force

Friday March 13, 2015

It seems appropriate to share the story of how I came up with the name for Planet 313. 

You can blame it on the X-files.  Back in the 1990’s when Mulder and Scully were running one of their freaky investigations they ran across the luckiest man in the world.  Whatever he set his mind to do he would be mega successful at it!  If he made a paper airplane, it would glide around the room catching even the slightest thermal draft to keep it afloat, and not hit the lamp.  If he bought a lottery ticket, it won.  You get the idea.

As the episode continued you saw that all of his luck was counterbalanced with “bad luck” for those around him whenever his “good luck” was manifested.  He would find a dollar - and the kid behind him would drop his ice cream cone into a storm drain, out of reach, and into slimy goo so that there was no chance for the “count-to-three” rule kids have.  Things like that would happen all throughout the show.

The “lucky” man lived in apartment 313.  Mulder made mention of it to Scully about the #3 being a lucky number.  Well documented by the culture of “Blah blah blah”; and of course, the unlucky characteristics of the #13 which are carried to our own culture today.  He even added the individual numbers together to reach “seven” and explained its perfect number references in the Bible and other places in Jewish and Greek cultures. 

It was a great episode!  What does all of this have to do with Planet 313?  It just so happened that the day I saw that episode is also the day I made my first email account ever - with Net Zero – (back when they advertised “Free Forever and Defenders of the Free World”) – I made my Email address with my name and 313 behind it.  It has been that way ever since with all my emails. 

Giving the game the numbers that has been my “cyber” connection only seemed natural.

First three prototype designs
First three prototype designs!

How did you come up with the design for Planet 313

posted Mar 6, 2015, 12:07 PM by John Force

People are asking me, “How did you come up with the design for Planet 313?”  As I look back I think it came from a survey I made years ago for my family and friends.  I asked them to tell me three things they liked about each of their favorite board, card, or dice games.  From their feedback I created a list of about 20 features they enjoyed most, and then refined it to the top five game mechanics or features.   

1.       Interesting Cards - not just the typical clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds.  Cards that make the players interact, take that, and protections from your evil opponent were considered gems of their favorite games.

2.       Different feature of the board itself- getting away from the monopoly style of moving pieces around the edge of a printed board.  Either the board itself was different or it was portrayed as a map with many different directions to choose.

3.       Special dice, not just a 1d6 with pips.  Dice that would engage features of the game or dice that would provide dual meanings depending on where you were in the game and dice that even represented the monsters themselves.

4.       Choices – Breaking away from rolling the dice and moving your pawn down the one same path, the desire for choices on direction and actions scored very high.

5.       Investment of thought – Their favorite games required them to think and choose their own actions.  From building their empire or earning their super-charged game feature to even change their direction if things were not working.

After considering the results of my survey I began to look at all the board games that had those features on the boards.  There were not very many.  Then I remembered a marble game from my childhood that used gravity to drop marbles through a series of rings to travel to the center.  There were not many games which used that approach so I started considering to use a mechanic that gave a similar movement.

That gave me the general concept of starting on the outside and rotating rings to navigate to the center.  I then started making prototypes of the board out of paper and a magic marker to find out what physical challenges there would be to navigation, and begin creating my own obstacles and bonus points.  From there, it has been a great journey in itself to develop the theme, the battle sequences, the events, and the action cards that provide the many challenges and excitement throughout the game.  After many hours putting it together, playtesting, redesigning, and retesting across many types of players, I have a game I love to play, even though I should be burnt out on it by now. 

My next learning curve is navigating the Kickstarter to fund the manufacturing of Planet 313.  It will be very rewarding and exciting to get Planet 313 made and into the hands of people who love to play it.

Here is a picture of the first prototype!

First Prototype Planet 313

Kickstarter is now live!!!

posted Mar 4, 2015, 1:15 PM by John Force   [ updated Mar 4, 2015, 1:17 PM ]

The Kickstarter for Planet 313 has finally arrived.  Preparation has been ongoing for quite a while; and there comes a time when you need to close your eyes, cross your fingers, push the launch button, and watch her fly!

Come and see what we’ve done and hop on board!

Planet 313 got some international exposure last week!

posted Feb 16, 2015, 11:09 AM by John Force

Dr. Janet Force with Bayer CropScience took some Planet 313 prototypes with her to Gent, Belgium, to be a part of team building activities for her teams at work.  Here is what she has to say about it!

 Last week was a wonderful opportunity to build trustful relationships with team members at work.  One of the activities was to have fun playing a board game together.  We selected the new, innovative game called Planet 313 by Roll For Surprise Games.  Our team of 13 people played the role of space explorers in an effort to be the first to colonize the new Planet 313.  Our team members learned to play the game quickly by using the Rules and Demo videos posted on the Roll For Surprise Games web page.  Feedback from the team was positive stating they found the game to be fun and exciting.  We are all looking forward to the commercial “launch” of this fun space game.

Planet 313 is on BoardGameGeek

posted Oct 28, 2014, 8:46 AM by John Force

We have a couple of prototypes of Planet 313 and have enough components with our artwork to give a good representation of what the game will look like after it is manufactured.  Checkout the artwork and game images on BoardGameGeek.  CLICK HERE

We are getting closer and closer to being ready for the Kickstarter campaign.

Pressing Forward

posted Jun 9, 2014, 7:04 AM by John Force

We are having exciting times here at Roll For Surprise Games™! An artist has been hired to help us with the artwork and layout of Planet 313. Each step in our journey to complete the game opens fun and exciting doors that allow us to meet some very inspiring people. Adam Winsor will be doing the artwork for the entire project. This means all the art will have a consistent theme and style. Here is a sneak peak at the artwork for the box. It is still in the sketch phase, but it is so cool I had to share it with you. We are getting closer to Planet 313 being ready to launch our Kickstarter! 


Adam Winsor ( is an illustrator and animator with an Art+Design degree from North Carolina State University. He has worked on many projects, including board games, video games, maps, children's books, and mobile apps. He has a life-long love of games, having spent many lively evenings around the game table with his family as he was growing up. Adam lives near Washington, DC with his wife and 2-year-old son, who loves to get out all the games and hide the pieces.

We just received our new game table from GEEK CHIC!

posted Apr 22, 2014, 9:05 AM by John Force

It has been a long time waiting for the table, but worth it.  It is beautiful!  This will be perfect and very enjoyable to test play my games on.  I can spread out all of my bits and pieces and use a dry marker if needed.  Work on it all day and then close it up without having to “pick up” to entertain in the evening. Did I say PERFECT!?!

Thanks to my wonderful wife, Dr. Janet Force, who made it all possible!

UNPUB Mini!!! MAY 10, 2014

posted Apr 11, 2014, 7:42 AM by John Force

Right here in Raleigh Durham at Atomic Empire! Please come and check out 15 unpublished games from local designers!  Yes, Planet 313 will be there.  I would love to share my game with you!  The event will be from 1pm to 8pm, so be ready to play a lot of games in various stages of prototype.



posted Mar 25, 2014, 6:04 AM by John Force

Scary and exciting at the same time!  Planet 313 had quite a journey from the drawing board and paper model, to the prototypes and playtests.  We are excited to see it make it to Rulebook testing phase!  We are currently in the sweet spot, where we “think” it is going to work.  So life is good.  We will have to see where we are next Tuesday.  Thank you Atomic Empire for hosting!

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