Weekly Rollup: Oct 5th – Oct 12th

Season 7 Pitch Night

Pitches, pizza, and some great discussion afterwards!


Upcoming Events


Beer & Board Games – Saturday, October 12th

Cafeteria & Company, Urbana @ 6:00pm – 9:00pm

CUDO Plays has joined forces with Cafeteria & Company to help them run their bi-monthly game nights. Come out to Cafe & Co. every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month to chill with some games, snacks, and beer/wine/coffee. Don’t miss the fun!  Facebook event

Making Workshop – Saturday, October 19th

Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab @ 1:00pm – 3:30pm

We’ll show you community resources to make cheap, awesome looking games, and you’ll learn about laser cutters and 3D printers. This is going to be the workshop that evolves your game from ‘stuff I found in my basement’ to top shelf material. We will have Season 1 winners of our Craft category walking you through what they did to make their game look amazing!

CUDO Plays October Game Night: SpoooOOOooky Games – Monday, October 21st

Hyatt Place Champaign @ 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Take a break from your busy schedule and get to know your fellow game enthusiasts! CUDO Plays Game Night is open to everyone! The featured theme for this month is of course SPOOKY GAMES!



CUDO Plays Recommends

This week CUDO Plays recommends The Bottle Imp.

In this trick-taking game based on the short story by Robert Louis Stevenson of the same name, the goal is to gain the most points over a series of hands.

Meet the CUDO Plays Committee!

CUDO Plays is run by the CUDO Plays Committee; an all-volunteer group of passionate, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable individuals who likely have magic powers as well. If you’ve ever been to any of our events, you’ve certainly met some of us, but if you’d like to get to know all of us a little better then read on!

For last season’s “Meet the Committee” post, we answered questions about underrated games and cartoons! Here’s this year’s prompt:

What games did you play in your childhood that helped make you a gamer today?

We’re gonna go right-to-left down the line of this picture here starting with…


I’m still a sucker for card games, because I maintain that euchre and Mille Bornes were the first games I played competently and had fun with. But another card game that really impacted me even younger was one that was in my parents’ collection ⁠— Parker Bros. “Water Works” ⁠— because I was obsessed with the tiny gold wrenches. In this game, everyone is completing the same solo goal, but an important component is sabotaging your opponents, and everyone also competes for diminishing resources to recover from the sabotage.
I loved the puzzle element of this game: fitting together different shapes of pipe without accidentally self-sabotaging. The game taught me a lot about weighing opportunity cost and not being so singularly goal-oriented. And eventually I figured out that engaging in the sabotage was an important part of the game, something that other kids’ games like Cootie or Chutes & Ladders didn’t address.
To this day, I still like puzzle-games, goal-meeting games, and balanced games where going on the offensive is necessary to win, but isn’t the only element. Plus, between the bathtub deck holder in Water Works, and the car-shaped deck holder in Mille Bornes, I am a total sucker for superfluous on-theme plastic game parts.



Part of me wants to say Axis & Allies.  It was my first complicated game, and my love for overwrought-yet-still-random games continue to this day.  I really enjoy dice that can wreck a good player or save a poor one, as long as the game itself is a big and fun journey for both sides.
But I also need to give a shout-out to Star Wars Monopoly. It was a re-skin of Monopoly with no rules changes. None at all. And I found that strange. There was nothing “Star Wars” about the game beyond visuals. I was in late elementary school, and this was maybe the first time I sat down in front of a board game and critically thought about “why” the rules were there, and why these rules weren’t living up to my expectations. I have enjoyed games with well-integrated and thematic rules ever since, and part of my board game enjoyment is the post-play discussion.



Battle Masters is a miniatures game played on the floor with a large hex grid. Playing it with my dad showed me how games could be big and exciting, but still accessible. 



Like many ’90s kids, I was (and am) caught up in the zeitgeist that was (and is) Pokemon. One of the few surviving board games from my childhood collection is Pokemon Master Trainer. This game did not perfectly recreate the original JRPG of yore — its randomness was extreme and there was minimal strategy, so really it’s a better fit as an adaption of Pokemon Go. But of course this shaped my appetite for games forever…or at least on and off at points, certainly right now, maybe in a few weeks, tomorrow, and some years in the future. Board game adaptions of video games hold a special place in my heart, good or bad. Anyone want to make a Rogue Legacy card game adaption together?



I did play many board games as a child, but it was usually just me and my little sister. The fun was limited when there were only two of us; doubly so when only one or neither of us really knew the rules to the game we were playing. As far a truly formative games go; I remember playing Chess against my little sister best of all. When I say I was playing my sister I mean I was actually playing my dad who was instructing her every move. I was 8 and should have been able to handily beat a 5 year old at chess. I knew how all the pieces move and everything! She and I started playing and it wasn’t long before dad was hovering nearby and said he would help both of us play. But “both of us” meant he wanted my sister to win. I learned that one-sided blow-outs are rarely fun if you’re on the losing side. I also learned that not being able to confront your real opponent via the game rules also sucks.



I played a lot of Sorry! and I was never sorry.



I grew up playing classic card games with my parents and sister (spades, pinochle, gin rummy, hearts, etc) but weirdly the game I remember the most from childhood is the Silver Dollar City Card Game. It was basically Old Maid if I remember correctly, just branded with imagery from a local amusement park. The thing that was clever about it was how easy they made the turn structure. It literally rhymed: “draw, play, throw away.” It was so simple to remember even my very young sister could play it. It was sort of my first game design lesson, I suppose.



As a child my most vivid memories are from games that had very tactile components. I remember playing Pretty Pretty Princess when I was VERY YOUNG and to this day I wish more games had wearable components! That game (along with sorting my Monopoly money by color) paved the way for my love of set collection, aesthetically pleasing games, and of course any game with a cool table presence or awesome components.I also vividly recall playing the game SPLAT! In which players use play-dough molded bugs as their pieces. The object of the game is to get 2 of your bugs down the path to safety (the finish line) before the other players have the opportunity to squish your bug!  I definitely learned a lot about bluffing and betrayal in those early play-dough games. Take-that style games are still not on my list of favorites.Then of course at summer day-camp I played a lot of Mafia with the other kids. That hidden role and social deduction game is what we now refer to as Werewolf. I would always layer in more character and story elements and to this day, I love a game whose mechanics match a theme and allow a story to unfold as I play.



My family played lots of games together growing up (notably Password, Mille Bornes, and the card game Casino). My dad was real into war games and tabletop RPGs as well, so from a young age I was playing (somewhat watered-down versions of) Dungeons & Dragons, Panzer Leader, and Blue Max. My dad also designed some games to play with my sister and I. The one I remember best was called Steel Dragons, which was sort of a homemade Battletech where you built and fought robot animals/dinosaurs on a big hex map. So I’ve known for a long time that part of the magic of board games is being able to make your own rules!

Weekly Rollup: Sep 28th – Oct 5th

Board Game Bootcamp

Yet another great Board Game Bootcamp is in the books! People made games about dragon apocalypses, farm fashion shows, crime tunnels, cat chefs, fussy playwright patrons, and romantic mafiosos. Hopefully some of these creations will be come full-featured games for the competition!


Upcoming Events


Pitch Night – Sunday, October 6th

Pixo @ 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Looking for a team to join, or have a great idea and need a few more members for your own team? Just want to show of your game ideas? Pitch Night will be hosted at the Pixo cafe space at 109 W. Goose Alley in Urbana. Facebook event


Beer & Board Games – Saturday, October 12th

Cafeteria & Company, Urbana @ 6:00pm – 9:00pm

CUDO Plays has joined forces with Cafeteria & Company to help them run their bi-monthly game nights. Come out to Cafe & Co. every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month to chill with some games, snacks, and beer/wine/coffee. Don’t miss the fun!  Facebook event



CUDO Plays Recommends

This week CUDO Plays recommends For the Queen.

This is a card-based story-building game that you and up to five other players can begin playing in minutes. Choose your queen from among fourteen gorgeously varied illustrations—or start from scratch—and use the prompt cards to collaboratively tell a story of love, betrayal, doubt, and devotion.

Weekly Rollup: Sep 21st – Sep 28th

Tabletop Central

Our good friends from Force Perspective Entertainment ran their own tabletop gaming convention last weekend and it was a huge success! CUDO Plays was there and many past and current competitors attended and played games.



Upcoming Events

Beer & Board Games – Saturday, September 28th

Cafeteria & Company, Urbana @ 6:00pm – 9:00pm

CUDO Plays has joined forces with Cafeteria & Company to help them run their bi-monthly game nights. Come out to Cafe & Co. every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month to chill with some games, snacks, and beer/wine/coffee. Don’t miss the fun!  Facebook Event  


Board Game Bootcamp – Sunday, September 29th

Champaign Public Library @ 1:00pm – 5:00pm

Not sure you could ever design your own game? This event is for you! Come on down for an afternoon of fast-paced game design and prototyping. See what you can come up with! You’ll be put into groups and randomly given mechanics and a theme to incorporate into your game. We’ll provide all the dice, cards, boards, bits and other materials you could possibly need for your prototype. Bootcamp is an amazing experience for all involved. If you can only attend one CUDO Plays event this season, try to make it this one! Facebook event



Pitch Night – Sunday, October 6th

Pixo @ 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Looking for a team to join, or have a great idea and need a few more members for your own team? Just want to show of your game ideas? Pitch Night will be hosted at the Pixo cafe space at 109 W. Goose Alley in Urbana. Facebook event


CUDO Plays Recommends

This week CUDO Plays recommends Petrichor.

Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. In this game the players move clouds with water droplets, and then rain those droplets onto specific fields, to make sure they have the right amount of water for the Harvest. During a Harvest, crops that have been watered enough are scored! Players are able to influence when, and how often the harvest happens. Players need to strike a fine balance between maintaining control of the different fields as well as influencing Harvest, to make sure the two come together at the optimal time.

Season 7 Symposium Recap

Season 7’s Symposium event earlier this month was one of our most successful yet, with four speakers on a diverse range of topics, as well as an expert Q&A panel to finish out the afternoon. Here’s a summary for those who were unable to attend.


Timely or Timeless? Games that Last

Dave Dubin – University of Illinois, School of Information Sciences

Dr. Dubin discussed two very different games and how they came to be played for centuries.

First was Rithmomachy, which is chess-like but with a lot more math involved. Sounds fun right? Rithmomachy was popular among educated people during the 11th through the 16th centuries, particularly those who were expected to learn Boethian arithmetic as part of their high class education. The game is seen mostly as a curiosity today, and likely would not have been popular then except for its use in teaching math and morality. You can play Rithmomachy online here if you dare. And learn more about Boethian math over here.

Dr. Dubin also discussed the “Royal Game of Ur,” a very old game dating back to 2,500 BCE, and one of the progenitors of modern Backgammon. You can see the most famous example of the game in the British Museum. Assyriologist Irving Finkel, deciphered a cuneiform tablet with the rules himself, and you can watch him play the game in this video.

Ultimately, though the popularity of the Backgammon family of games waxes and wanes over time, the fundamental gambling element is what keeps people coming back century after century.


Bending the Rules: Tabletop Rule Modifications and What We can Learn from Them

Alexis Upshaw –  Doctoral candidate in informatics, and part of the Playful by Design research cluster

Alexis discussed the importance of rules (they literally make a game a game!) and highlighted how changing rules is an important part of designing and experiencing tabletop games. Specifically she talked about expansions for existing published games, variants of well known games, and “house rules” that are made on the fly at your own game table. All of these types of rules modification, separates tabletop experiences from digital games which have strict “rules management” and the rules can only be changed or broken if you have access and knowledge of the underlying code. Being able to change the rules easily is part of what makes tabletop gaming special and accessible to everyone.

Both designers and players have responsibilities when it comes to considering and making rules changes:


Space for Making: Games and Landscape

Chris Marlow – Ball State University, Department of Landscape Architecture

Professor Marlow has used game design as a teaching tool in his landscape architecture classes. He began with an overview of what landscape architecture is: a blend of engineering, art, horticulture, ecology, architecture, urban planning, and urban design. The discipline covers a lot of ground! However, the task of the landscape architect is very similar to that of the game designer. Both are trying to craft experiences for other people that allow room for personal choice, but also have a set of constraints and incentives to shape the experience.

Marlow’s classes had students creating not only tabletop games but video games as well to illustrate key concepts in Landscape Architecture. The professor showed a number of examples of the games students had made, including this “tower defense” style game about placing the right number of trees, benches and water features in a park.

Game design proved to be an excellent tool for fostering learning and innovative thinking about complex problems.



Is This Interesting? Is This Fun?

Chris and Anne Lukeman – CU Adventures in Time and Space

Chris and Anne talked about the challenges of designing and running escape rooms and compared these to the challenges of designing and running your own board game. Here’s just a few of their talking points.

  • Whether you’re designing an escape room or a tabletop game, always be asking yourself, “is this interesting?” and “is this fun?” In both design cases you’re trying to provide a feeling to the player; an enjoyable experience
  • Escape rooms, and tabletop games should both be a narrative journey with some kind of coherent arc. Even if your game is small, it should have a rising action and exciting climax.
  • While players might play the same board game many times, they’ll only play the same escape room once! Escape room designers have to get the experience right the first time.
  • When running an escape room, just as with teaching your own board game, it’s vital to be able to read people. Be aware and empathetic for when people are confused, disengaged, or when they’re having a great time!
  • Escape rooms are a very new industry and nobody knows what they’ll be like in five years. More like interactive theater perhaps? Stronger narrative with less puzzle-solving?


To wrap up the day we had our panel of expert game retailers:

Red – Gopher Mafia Games
John Dimit – Dr. G’s Brainworks
Brent Dickman – Elf Creek Games

Here’s the answers to a couple of the many questions they fielded.

Q: In your stores, or at your convention booth, how do you ensure that your space is inviting and inclusive?


  • Make an investment in nice chairs!
  • Dedicate yourself to having a clean store always
  • Choose bright/inviting colors and light when possible


  • Stock games for all ages, from the very young to the very old
  • Provide excellent customer service by making sure your staff knows the majority of the games you stock so they can help customers find the right game for them


  • For convention booths, it’s important to have separate spaces for talking to people about the games vs a space for people taking that next step to sit down and play a demo
  • Value people’s convention time! If you see they’re not having a good time don’t pressure them to stick around 


Q: What are the trends in the board game industry right now? What’s hot?

A: This discussion went around the panel a few times. Fantasy games are always popular. Sci-fi games tend not to be unless they’re connected to a big brand like Star Wars. Superhero games are having a moment right now, but who knows when it will end. Across the industry though there is an increase in games that are simple to teach and also deeply thematic. Ultimately, the panelists all agreed that competitors in CUDO Plays shouldn’t try to chase the current trends since nobody has any idea what the next trend might be. Instead, focus on creating a game that you’re passionate about.

Hopefully Symposium invigorated competitors and sparked some design ideas for Season 7! Board Game Bootcamp and Pitch Night are just around the corner!