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20 months on

It’s been 20 months since the card game, Cloak of Protection, launched at the Mahara Gallery.

The game is a Kapiti Coast production (game, illustration, design), and we’d all like to say a big thankyou to Janet & her team at the Mahara, for giving us our beginning, and putting us on our feet.

Once you’d shown confidence in us, others followed. The Gallery exhibition showed the quality of Morgan’s illustrations. The time spent playing the game, in sessions at the gallery – with local schools & with visitors at the gallery – started the first wave of enthusiasm. And the sales through the retail space, proved that the game had real potential.

To date, we have sold 980 games. To put this number in perspective, a big print-run for a game in NZ is 1,000 & it generally takes 4+ years to sell them all!!

noho ora mai ra

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Cloak of Protection VIDEO!

We now have a video of the game!! I know it’s a big ask to learn to play a game from written instructions. So finally we have the visuals.

Kurt came with me to Kapanui School where we shot Billie-Jean, Leah, Bailey, Callum & Marie-Louise playing the game.

It was wonderful to be back at Kapanui School. Two years ago, the final testing of the game was done with their students. And since then, these students have helped me promote the game in other ways too.

Working to Kurt’s story-board, we added in the instructions, shot some more footage, I did the voice-over, and here it is!!

A larger version is also available, please click on the image above left to view.

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NZ Games Association awards programme

What a week! First I was doing what I love – playing the game. I went over to Lower Hutt, and worked with students at 4 enviroschools: Dyer Street School, Naenae Primary School, Tawahi School, and St Bernadettes School

Then the news was out (in Saturday’s Dominion Post) that Cloak of Protection is a finalist for New Zealand game of the year. This award programme is being run by the NZ Games Association.

We are up in two categories – New Game of the Year, and Teacher’s & Children’s Choice.

New Game of the year is being judged by a panel of six industry experts, including a renowned game designer, board gaming event organizers and retailers.

The Teacher’s Choice and Children’s Choice awards are being judged by teachers and students at four schools nationwide. The participating public schools are all full primaries, offering years 1-8: Clyde, Martinborough, Ramarama and Westport South Schools. Judges will consider criteria including the game’s appearance, quality, clarity of rules, interactivity, and uniqueness.

Results in August.

This week I’m off to the Wairarapa, playing the game with enviroschool teachers & students in Masterton. So the Cloak spreads!

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variations on a theme

Often I write about the game as it is played by children & families. But I also have regular players who are adults. And they play some interesting variations. Here are three that fit within the rules.

1) No-one ever builds a cloak as they are collecting cards. They just lay the cards randomly in lines in front of them. Then they wait ‘til the last moment to show their cloak. In this way, while the cards are showing, the actual cloak remains hidden.

2) All the cards are held in the hand, which must be quite a fistful(!) but is quite possible. Keeping the cards hidden makes trading much more edgy, as you never know how much you are helping the other person.

3) 8 players. 2 packs. Players proved much readier to sacrifice their gods, rather than their birds, so the game moved quickly, remaining interesting & dynamic.

Do you have any interesting variations in the game? If you do, plse post & let us know.

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@ the Upper Hutt Library

SO yesterday I spent a pleasant hour at the Upper Hutt Library. Students there played Cloak of Protection as part of their Summer Reading Challenge.

This was my first session in a library & it was a treat! We had a great corner to play, with plenty of right-sized tables.

Librarians were on hand. Kate, the Children’s Programmes Co-ordinator, kindly organised the visit, and was an amazing hostess. Sophie (pictured) carefully watched over a group.

Whoops soon filled the library, as the kids got their cloaks underway. These sounds were a joy & a delight to librarians’ ears!!!

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Wellington Enviroschools update

Our first sale on this programme was 26 Sept 2012. That was the day we launched the teaching, learning & sales partnership with Enviroschools Wellington.

21 schools from this region now have a page on this site, & 14 of these have begun gaining points toward rewards. Points range from 1 to 39. Muritai School – who are sitting on 39 – have received $125 (which they are putting toward their new worm farm), plus 4 games to go in their classes.

December has been very exciting! If you do the maths, you’ll see that today’s total is 86 games. So the cloak spreads.

So – to all you students who are getting a game in your Christmas stocking this year – I hope you, your friends, and your families have a blast playing the game. All the best. And thankyou.

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nature nerd stocking fillers

at that least that’s what Nicola Toki has put us under, in her blog this week on STUFF (Dominion Post on-line). Titled In Our Nature.

Here’s what she said about the game:
“The maker of Cloak of Protection kindly sent me one of the games, which the bloke and I played last night. The bloke was tired and is notoriously cranky about card games in general, but he got quite into this one, beating me (annoying!) and it didn’t take us long to work out that if you landed a “predator” card it was night-night to half of your collection.

“This game is entertaining, educational (the impacts of predators on our native species becomes very obvious very quickly) and the cards are beautifully illustrated. I’d definitely recommend it for families that are interested in our native wildlife. It’d be great for camping or at the bach over summer.”

Thanks Nicola.

She knows her stuff, having written a couple of books herself.

The first, Invaders – animals from elsewhere that are causing trouble here – was selected as a finalist in the 2010 LIANZA Children’s Book awards for best non-fiction. It’s basically about all the baddies that we’ve brought over here (including sneaky stowaways, out of control pest control, and pet escape artists), and the impact they’re having on our precious native wildlife.

The second book Wild Buddies – friendships and unusual relationships in nature – is about all the different wildlife that relies on other species to boost their survival. Like, for example, the tuatara that take over the burrows of seabirds, eventually becoming flatmates from hell, muscling into their space, eating their eggs and chicks and generally being a pain. Or the worm that takes over the mind of a weta!!

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on Newstalk ZB

Last Tues I was on Danny Watson’s show on Newstalk ZB – new products / bright ideas. Danny has this session on the first Tues of each month, & it’s fascinating what NZers are up to!

I’ve had some calls & quite a few orders for the game, Cloak of Protection. So a big thankyou to Danny.

Should you want to listen in: click our link, second right (Jil on Newstalk ZB)

Danny thought that ‘the images were so fantastic you could put the cards on the wall’. Here’s one that caught his eye in the (black & white) book that comes with the game. Adzebill.

Adzebill were 80cm tall, flightless, rail-like birds. Their massive down-curved bills were probably used to capture animal prey as large as ducks.

Giant flightless birds, chasing huge flightless ducks. Must have been quite a sight!!!

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ethical shopping

As you know, our major retailing drive is through Wellington Enviroschools. They emerged as the most aligned organisation in terms of its kaupapa and the integrity of the game.

But also, in the Wellington region, we have a retailer who is also aligned to our core values. Commonsense Organics.

Several years ago Morgan & I made giant pohutukawa for the Commonsense Organic stores in Kapiti & Central Wellington. Kapiti now have theirs up all year round: Wellington put theirs up for xmas.

Now, in the Kapiti store, the games are sitting on the counter, beneath the pohutukawa. There they’re storming out the door!!!

Games can also be found in Commonsense Organics stores in Lower Hutt, Wellington & Kilbirnie (both later this week). Also in Kilbirnie we are in the fabulous Children’s Bookshop.