board games

The Carrier

The Carrier is now on Kickstarter!

The Carrier is an expansion to our game Infected. Set in the times of the Bubonic Plague, The Carrier adds new cards, characters, abilities, and chain reactions to your existing Infected game.

apothecary j.jpg

Infected is a quick, strategic, secret role, semi-cooperative social game. One of the party is a Plague Doctor, spreading the Bubonic Plague. The Villagers need to find and rid themselves of the evil doctor before they succumb to the greatest plague in history.

Now, one or more Villagers can begin with one of the Plague Doctor’s ravens in their hand. The malevolent Raven carries with it an Infection. As a Villager, if you receive an Infection card of any kind from the Plague Doctor, you MUST pass your Raven card on your next turn(The Raven now infects a villager, unless that Villager receives a vaccination).

Let’s hope your fellow Villagers are prepared.

Carrier Raven - delayed 1 round infection - Infected - Black Forest Studio.png

The Carrier introduces a powerful new Plague Doctor, 3 new ravens to infect Villagers, The Huntress, who is immune to ravens, the Blacksmith, the Sinister Villager, the Weak Villager, the Vaccination dice, the Priest, the Apothecary, and the Silent Villager miniature. 

Silent Villager miniature - Black Forest Studio - Infected.png

13 Questions with Shem Phillips

Shem Phillips is a game designer who is well known for his Vikings of the North Sea trilogy of games. I was able to play Raiders of the North Sea, which was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres. I really enjoyed the theme and unique take of worker placement here. Finding specific workers for different locations, and then also putting down a worker and picking up a different one added something new to consider while playing. Raiders of the North Sea is so good that it automatically vaulted into my personal top 10 favorite games of all time!

Raiders of the North sea game on.jpg


I was able to interview Shem who gave us some insights into his design process, as well as his new trilogy of games, set in the West Frankish kingdom. 

Below is our 13 Questions with Shem Phillips.

1.    Where do you get inspiration for your games?
The main inspiration is often other games – digital and tabletop. I played (and still play) a lot of Age of Empires II on PC. This has been a big influence on all my recent medieval games.

2.    Do you keep a note journal for your ideas, gaming or otherwise?
I use Google Drive for all my ideas. I have a Google Doc with a bunch of concepts – single paragraph kind of stuff. I also use Google Sheets when working on prototypes. Sometimes I will end up using Adobe Illustrator to jot down ideas, since it's easy to have graphics and text all in one place. This can help when trying to visualize the game on a table.

3.    When did you know that the trilogy of Viking games would be something special?
After the unexpected success of Shipwrights on Kickstarter, I knew I was onto something good. The Mico (artist) started growing quickly in popularity. There was a lot of demand for a follow up game, and so Raiders was born.

4.    When did you realize that you “needed” to create games and other creative projects?
I've always been creating. My brother and I use to design our own superheroes and other characters when we were very young. I started song writing when I was about 9 years old. In the past I've also designed websites, t-shirts, logos and various other things. I grew up playing a lot of the classic American games, but only discovered modern games in my early twenties. Being a creative junkie, I dove straight into designing my own.

5.    What kind of creative routines or patterns do you have, if any?
Trying to force creativity has never worked for me. I find I'm most creative away from my computer. Laying in bed early in the morning, thinking about new ideas is a common thing for me.

6.    What is your favorite morning drink?
Hot chocolate.

7.    What gives you the greatest satisfaction from designing your games?
There's a few things. I love when artists send me new files during development. Seeing others enjoy my games and discovering hidden depth within each game – that never gets old. I also really enjoy getting the finished print copy in my hands for the first time.

8.    What does your design process look like?
Stare at computer. Read old notes. Give up. Play some Age of Empires II. Play a prototype. Give up. Go to sleep and think over new ideas. Give up on sleeping – get up and 4am to work on my new ideas. Rinse and repeat! Not sure that counts as a process?

9.    What physical pieces do you use most when designing or prototyping a game?
Card sleeves, coloured cubes and meeples.

10.    Do you collect anything?
Board games (surprise, surprise). I have some figurines from Final Fantasy and Lord of the Rings. I collect dice too.

11.    Is there somewhere you would like to travel that you haven't been to yet?
Egypt, France, Italy, New York in Christmas.

12.    What game designers are you a fan of?
The Brunos – Cathala and Faidutti. Stefan Feld, Matt Leacock, Vlaada Chvátil.

13a.    What games are you currently playing the most?
Other than prototypes, Scythe, Sagrada, Kingdomino, Pandemic (in various forms), By Order of the Queen. Dead of Winter.

13b.    Any hint or ideas of something new you are creating next?
Architects of the West Kingdom will be my next release. As you might guess, it's part 1 in the start of a new trilogy, set in the West Frankish kingdom. This game is also my first co-design. It's been a really great experience working with a good friend.

Thanks Shem for the interview!

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Electronic Games into Board Games

I’m a fan of games. Spending time with friends and family is important, and this is one way to do that. I like board games, parlor games (like mafia), playing cards (I’ve produced several decks on Kickstarter which were printed by USPCC and Bicycle branded), and video games. Games on phones can be a fun way to kill a few minutes if I have to wait around.

One strategic game that I discovered a couple of years ago is Plague Inc, by Ndemic Creations. In this game, you are a plague which is trying to infect the world. It’s a really infectious game (yes I did that) with a lot of strategy. New iterations including viruses, bacteria, apes, zombies, and other various sicknesses make the game a lot of fun while adding some unique twists and turns. You get to choose which country your infection starts in, and then the real work starts. Your infection grows in strength and ability, and it’s your job to infect every last human on earth. Fun, I know.

But how many electronic games make good board games? From my experience so far, the best board games don’t come from electronic games. But this one might be different. Plague Inc is actually a project on Kickstarter right now, and I think it’s worth taking a look at. I just backed it because the company who made the game for my iPhone has done such a great job supporting it that I think they’ll continue to do a great job with this game. I’ll look forward to playing it after the months it will take to manufacture it.

What do you think? Do video games and other electronic games make good board games?

13 Questions with Death Wish Coffee

My morning started as usual. NEED CAFFEINE IN THE FORM OF COFFEE!  I’m a dark roast guy, and I grind fresh coffee each morning before it goes into my French Press. You can’t beat it. I recently searched for some new coffee, and came across Death Wish Coffee, the #1 Best Seller in Coffee Beverages on Wait, THE #1?  Yes.  I ordered a pound of coffee and loved every ounce. But something amazing happened when my coffee arrived in the mail. The packaging happened. I opened my Amazon box, and every part of my creative juices loved what was inside. The label was big and bold, just like the coffee. I immediately reached out to Death Wish Coffee for an interview, as packaging and marketing is as much about the product as the coffee bean. Soon after, Death Wish also won a Super Bowl commercial! What?! Yes they did, so stay tuned for the big game and watch them as they blow up this year. Below is my interview with Kane Grogan of Death Wish Coffee, who says he has been drinking coffee since his late teens, so he knows a thing or two.

1.       How did you get started?

Owner Mike Brown owned a coffee shop and people kept asking for the strongest coffee they had. After a quick Google search, we discovered there was nothing for the world’s strongest coffee so it was an untapped market. We saw an opportunity and seized it.

2.       Who is the marketing genius?

We all help with the marketing. Initially it was all Mike, but we have all worked as a team to blow this thing up.

3.       I bought a 1 pound bag of coffee beans, and I loved opening the box. It also came with the sticker that I can throw on my laptop, which is cool. Everything about the packaging was awesome. How did you come up with that?

We are on a never ending journey on bringing the best package to your door step. We definitely want you to feel like you’re opening up something special every time you get package from us in the mail. We include some really neat freebies from time to time as well, so it definitely pays to be on our mailing list.

4.       Why was it so important for you to create coffee that was Fair Trade and organic?

On top of delivering bad ass, caffeinated coffee, we didn’t want to sell a gimmick. We wanted top notch, high quality beans. We also care about the farms we source our beans as it is a pretty cut throat industry and there are definitely some places that exploit their farmers pretty seriously. Having it be Fair Trade and Organic ensures we are delivering the best possible product.

5.       How did you get to be the best-seller on Amazon?

Anyone can sell on Amazon, and luckily we have a product that sells itself. We’ve been blessed to be able to work with Amazon directly, as they can offer things we can’t on our website such as free (prime) or expedited shipping. A lot of people use Amazon exclusively so it just kind of grew and grew. It even out performs our site sometimes, which is huge.

6.       Who is your coffee for?

Our coffee is for anyone who wants to really enjoy good coffee. There is a lot of bad coffee out there. We deliver a very strong, smooth blend that doesn’t come with the bitter, burnt taste. Our coffee is for the go-getter who wants to get stuff done and isn’t afraid to take risks.

7.       Any plans for new types of coffee?

We experiment a lot. Innovation is one of our favorite parts of the process. We have done a lot of barrel aging beans in whiskey and rum barrels to get it different flavors. We have experimented with different natural types of flavoring (most flavored coffee on the market uses a lot of chemicals) so stay tuned for seasonal blends.

8.       Any store openings planned?

At this time, we aren’t interested in having a Death Wish store, but we are trying to find ways to set up distribution with chains across the country so stay tuned for that!

9.       What can you share with us regarding future plans?

Beyond getting into stores on a national level, we have some cool things coming up. We have a vodka coming out with Albany Distilling Co. which is VERY tasty and we have some exciting announcements with the comic book community. Oh, we also won a SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL! No big deal…

10.   Who is your favorite soccer team?

Team USA!

11.   Where did you get the inspiration for your coffee name?

Mike wanted coffee so strong it needed a warning and Death Wish just seemed to fit the best.

12.   Do you collect anything?

I collect bad habits and then collect ways to break them.

13.   Is there somewhere you would like to travel that you haven’t been to yet?

I would love to go to so many places and Death Wish is starting to allow me to go to places for work which is truly a blessing. I’d love to spend more time out west and also Europe. New Zealand is definitely up there.


Thank you Death Wish Coffee! I’m pumped about your new plans, and I’m looking forward to trying out the Valhalla Java next.

by Bryan Sloan, Black Forest Studio

The importance of playing games in-person

In our digital age, it seems we are still able to lose touch with each other. It’s more important now than ever not to just “stay in contact” by looking at our phones, but to have some actual face time with our friends and family. That’s why I think analog games, meaning board games, playing cards, and other parlor games we play with each other are so important.

Skills we learn include people reading, negotiation, and simply getting along. I’m not saying it isn’t ok to put up a trade embargo against someone who only needs 2 more Victory Points to win Settlers of Catan – I mean that it’s important to spend time with 3 dimensional people who breathe the same oxygen we do.

This short video below by Start Rite is an interview with children who feel ignored by their parents who spend too much time on their phones, leaving the kids feeling disregarded or unimportant.

During the video, a young girl says how she wishes she could play a board game with her parent, but the parent is otherwise too busy.

Do you think this digital age, while trying to connect us, is tearing away those who are closest to us?

by Bryan Sloan, Black Forest Studio

Emotional IQ

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Black Forest Studio announces Emotional IQ, a new party game for 2 or more people.

There are 6 basic Emotions known to humans: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Happiness, Sadness, and Surprise. But how many more Emotions do you feel every day? And how much of what you say is actually comprised of your words?

Emotional IQ is a hilarious new party game, for 2 players on up to party size. It’s easy to learn and easy to play.  There are 2 types of cards: the Emotion Cards, and the Sentence Cards.

You’ll choose 1 card from each stack and then deliver the Sentence. Other players will have to guess which Emotion you used. Here’s the catch – no one except you knows which Emotion card you drew, and you only get 1 shot at your delivery.

So how do you say, “Chocolate ice cream is amazing” in your best “DISGUSTED” voice.

Deliver a random sentence with a random emotion. Tough, isn't it? And hilarious.

Deliver a random sentence with a random emotion. Tough, isn't it? And hilarious.

Each time you play Emotional IQ, you’ll deliver different Emotions with different Sentences. There are tons of combinations.

So how much of what you say is actually comprised of your words?