135 – Portal Dragon Games, Planetoid, Games for Foster Kids – The Family Gamers Podcast

Planetoid: a game of

On this week’s episode, we are joined by Jon Mietling, of Portal Dragon Games, to talk about the Kickstarter for his game Planetoid, his other games, and how games have helped him connect with his foster kids.

Let’s talk about Planetoid.

We’ve been playing a prototype of Planetoid and can’t stop talking about how much we enjoy it.

It’s a set collection and memory game for 1-4 players. You are interstellar miners trying to get the most valuable resources. You can play heavily on memory, or rely more on luck and strategy. When you drill, reveal all surrounding tiles; or you can scan to peek at tiles that are still hidden. “Ship” resources and earn a bonus if they match a certain set.

The advanced mode uses action point system, so you can make more decisions about what actions to do on your turn: one big powerful action, lots of cheap actions, or somewhere in between?

Jon specifically designed Planetoid to grow from Basic to Advanced depending on what your players are like.

Check out the kickstarter: thefamilygamers.com/planetoid

Planetoid isn’t the only Portal Dragon game we’ve fallen for! Next we address Palm Island. It’s fundamentally a solo game, that you play simply manipulating a deck of cards in your hands.

Where did you come up with the idea for Palm Island?

It comes from working in two categories: starter ideas and goals. “What kinds of games do I like to play, what kind of games would I like to see?” Both Palm Island and Planetoid came from a game design “sprint”, during a season where Jon had a very long drive to work. Specific idea: “table-less game”. Originally he called it “Palm Springs”, and the pun launched the whole idea. To achieve table-less, what was needed… Palm Island is not the first game to do this, but Jon had not looked at any of the others first.

Amazingly, once Jon hit on the full idea, Palm Island needed very little editing to the gameplay.

Especially with Feats and other optional abilities, Palm Island encourages players to try many different strategies. At first glance, it appears very luck-based, but it’s actually less about luck and more about learning different kinds of strategy.

Get the basic version for about $15 on Portal Dragon’s website, but you can get the plastic card version with free shipping if you back the Planetoid Kickstarter!

Tell us about Zephyr: Winds of Change.

Cooperative, modular adventure for 1-5 players. You’re a steampunk airship captain! Asymmetric – everyone has their own ship. Tries to address the issue common to many other cooperative games; every player should feel valuable, with their own decisions to make. Players can fly apart and pick new sub-missions. Scales to different player counts and time restrictions.

For this game, Jon wanted to make something “hefty, but that my wife would play with me.” Since there are different rules for different situations, it is pretty fiddly, unlike other Portal Dragon games. However, turn-to-turn, it feels like a basic deckbuilder. Use your captain’s special abilities and gain crew with their *own* special abilities and personalities (this is where the transparent cards come in, making unique combinations). Definitely lends to storytelling. Borrows from a videogame called “Faster than Light”.

Tell us more…

Jon wears mismatched socks and likes solving problems. Palm Island in particular seems to fit a niche and solve a problem for a lot of people who aren’t catered to by most board games.

More on Planetoid: $22 plus shipping gets you the whole thing. We think this game is an awesome deal for under $30, and super-approachable for most families. Families are the goal!

What’s your favorite game with a memory component?

The Family Gamer’s choice for young families is Chicken Cha Cha Cha.

Jon really appreciates T.I.M.E. Stories and its memory component (and My First Stone Age for young families). Jon specifically calls out the fact that T.I.M.E. Stories gives each player their own info and reason for participating.

Tell us about yourself.

Jon would like to have more time for camping (trailer) and family traveling. He makes some Kickstarter videos, but his full-time job is at a non-profit called “Friendship Circle”, serving special-needs kids & their families. Also part-time for his mom’s organic cacao business.

Jon and his wife are foster parents, with up to 9 kids at home! Games are a way to connect with new kids on an indirect level. Great way to break down barriers with laughter and forge new bonds, without needing to go somewhere special or spend a lot of money.

What’s next?

Jon’s next game is a collaboration with Jon Gilmour (Dead of Winter, Dinosaur Island), called Co-lab. You’re a mad scientist who can’t afford their own secret lab, so you’re sharing lab space. Everyone can use common inventions to create monsters and disasters… coming early 2020.

How to contact Portal Dragon:

Twitter: theportaldragon
Facebook: theportaldragon
Instagram: theportaldragon

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