A journey of discovery…

Game Design

How to Play Sungem Run! – A Rise of the Occulites Game

G’day guys,

While I work on finishing off the packaging art for Dawn and its expansions and since it is my wedding anniversary today, my wife and I wanted to share the How to Play video for a game that we both co-designed and set in the Rise of the Occulites universe called Sungem Run!

Sungem Run Front Cover

It is a tense, deduction game that uses dice for 2-8 players (or 2-13 with expansions) that plays in 10-30 minutes (depending on player count and skill).

There are several ways to play, with enormous re playability and more in development for the future. It has been in development for over a year and a half now and is set directly after the storyline in Dawn. The Tribal Chiefs of the Tribes that didn’t collect enough Sungems to heat their cave over the Long Dark, don’t want to just give up. So they quickly send out their four members to a nearby Podmothine to raid its Sungems under the cover of darkness. The Chiefs stay back to guard their Home Caves, but your Tribe is not the only one with this idea. If your Tribe is discovered raiding the Podmothine, your Home Cave will be swamped with other Tribes and your Chief will not be able to stop them raiding it.

We are extremely proud of Sungem Run! and have tested it thoroughly with many ages and backgrounds. Sungem Run! has developed into something really special and as such we are looking at Kickstarting this fantastic game around the middle of the year and would love your support. So check out the video and let us know what you think.

All the best and take care,


Puscuals and Nymphlets oh my!

Here is a preview of the latest update on Dawn straight from the KS page. We would love your support to get towards our last few exciting Stretch Goals, so please go and check it out and consider supporting us by backing the project.


Before we jump into details about our tasty treats the Nymphlets, I received an email from Bob Olley that had some quick photos of a couple of new figures… that’s right, we have images of both the Puscual green and the Nymphlet green that will be turned into plastic figures when we hit $65K for the Puscual and $75K for the Nymphlets.

I’ve asked him if he could send me some images of the figures next to an Occulite and when I hear back from him I’ll post them too.

Puscual – 30mm tall, bulky. Tree trunk just fits in a board space.

Nymphlet – Smaller and mounted on a tree branch with reeds down the bottom of it. Total size from bottom to top of branch 25mm. So Nymphlet is roughly Luftle length.

Well? What do you think? I love them and think that they fit right into the Occulite world. I know that I’m looking forward to using them in the game. The Nymphlets (if we hit our target) will actually be cast in 6 different colours to match the tokens and the painted ones will look spectacular. The Puscuals will undoubtedly look fantastic painted up as well. I intend to paint some up in their most common colour scheme – the olive green, with brighter green patches. But then, I have some other cool ideas too.


“The sun had slowly been sinking beneath the horizon for several days now. The sky was painted a splash of purples and blues, with tiny, white shining lights dotting the canvas. It was becoming Dusk and I had seen the Occulites slow down their exploration. They were mainly gathering plants, food and the last of the easy to get Sungems and bringing them back to their caves. They were preparing for something, but this was the first time in all the time I have watched them, that the sky had darkened. If indeed their night was coming as ours does, then I might not see them for a time. So I watched intently.

Moving my hands slightly, the sound of Crepusculum came flooding back, filling my ears with the sound of the wildlife. A soft breeze blew through the Lumino Trees, the occasional deep croak of a Palaudis and the constant chirping and buzzing of the insect life. Chirping and buzzing that became louder and louder. Looking around the landscape with a crinkled forehead I can see Occulites of all known species gathering. Not fighting, but waiting separately in their Tribes like something was about to happen. Was it going to be a battle?

The answer quickly came to me as a smallish dragonfly-like creature dashed into view, followed by another, and another. Soon the air was filled with them, darting to and fro, dancing through the air. It was then that the commotion started. The Occulites scattered across the landscape, grabbing and jumping at the creatures. Snatching them from the air… some had crude nets, others were using their hands, some stuffed the creatures into kangaroo-like pouches and others devoured theirs on the spot. This was no battle… this was a feast! A feast like no other…”
A passage from Darwin’s Diaries.

These dragonfly-like creatures are now known as Nymphlets and late in each season, as the sun goes down and the sky turns purple, they gather on mass to spawn. The Occulites, being incredibly resourceful use this opportunity as a last ditch effort to put on body fat so they can hibernate during the Long Dark.

All Occulite Tribes find Nymphlets incredibly delicious and an excellent source of slow burning energy. They snack on them throughout the season, but when Dusk comes, they are able to indulge and for some Tribes, this can save their whole season.

The Nimbus Tribe rarely eat theirs straight away, but instead capture them to help pollinate the flowers and plants high up in the mountainous regions where it is too cold for most insects of their ilk. Being primarily herbivorous, the Nimbus could not survive high up in the mountains without their flora and so they rely on the Nymphlets to help them etch out their niche in the environment, despite how tough it is.

In Game Rules

Nymphlets in game, are controlled by the game mechanics, but you have some control over how this plays out. At the start of each round, the players take it in turns to place the coloured Nymphlet wedges onto the directional hex on the edge of the board. Then each Nymphlet moves it’s Speed (5 spaces) in the relevant direction.

Where the wedges are placed will determine which direction each Nymphlet flies. In the above example, the Blue Nymphlet moves 5 spaces in the direction indicated. Nymphlets ignore all terrain and figures when flying, but cannot end their movement on a space with a figure (except another Nymphlet). If this happens, they move an extra space until they hit an empty one.

Nymphlets can be caught by moving into their space and defeating them in Combat. Since Nymphlets have a Defense of 6, that is not always easy. Nymphlets never attack other figures, but if one successfully defends against a catch attempt, for each success in excess of it’s attacker’s successes, it will move one space in its indicated direction away from the attacker.

When you take into account its Innate Abilities below, especially Tricky, they do become very difficult to catch.

Any damage caused to a Nymphlet for any reason is always cancelled.

When defending, a Nymphlet gains rerolls equal to the number of spaces the figure had to Move to Attack it.

Nymphlets are a fun Creature to use in Scenarios and add another Challenge to the palette of options that Dawn – Rise of the Occulites has. We really hope that you can help spread the word about the game so that we can hit our stretch goals and get these figures produced so they don’t just stay as flat tokens.

All the best,

Taking on feedback on card appearance

G’day guys,

A fair amount of time has passed since the first Kickstarter for Dawn – Rise of the Occulites came and went. As we ramp up towards the relaunch, I wanted to revisit some of the feedback I had received about the appearance of the cards. Having played around with some alternative ways to present the cards in a more stylish manner, I have come up with the following.


The idea would be to redraw the illustrations for all the cards to improve their appearance, but also to make the card templates themselves more appealing. I would honestly love to hear your feedback on what I’ve done here. I haven’t run this past Eagle Games, but before I commit to any of these changes, I would have to get everyone’s feedback, as well as of course the blessing from Eagle Games to do so. It would take a lot of time to re illustrate every card and so my instinct would be that it could be a possible stretch goal to improve the cards. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the very best and I’ll have some more information on the relaunch of Dawn – Rise of the Occulites soon.
EDIT: Here is another option that takes into consideration some of the constructive feedback that I’ve received on the above card.



What’s up with this new Dice of the Occulites game?

G’day guys,

If you have been following our Kickstarter for Dawn – Rise of the Occulites you will have noticed a new update today talking about revised stretch goals.
The first change was that the Objective cards added to each Tribe are now @ $40K, instead of $50K, making it much more likely that this awesome addition to Dawn will see the light of day.

The second and most major addition to the stretch goals is at $45K, $50K and $55K, with the inclusion of a brand new game ‘Dice of the Occulites’. This will be included for free to every backer if we reach those totals.
I see that some people were apprehensive about this, but let me assure you that this is a fun game, that fits in this Kickstarter and adds value to your pledge.

First things first, here are the rules for you to download: DICE OF THE OCCULITES – THE EXPLORATION OF CREPUSCULUM

Dice of the Occulites is a fast, fun and tactically challenging new game set in the Occulite universe. It is a separate game to Dawn – Rise of the Occulites, but takes place during the same period of time. Whereas Dawn allows you to take control of a Tribe of Occulites, Dice of the Occulites allows you to take control of the role of someone that has found a ‘window in space’ and begins to research the world of Crepusculum. So think of Dice taking place on Earth and Dawn taking place in Crepusculum at the same exact time.
Each player starts the game with a particular Tribe they are interested in researching (represented by 6 dice in that Tribe’s colour), but as the game goes on, players can share knowledge with others to broaden their interests and put them in the best place to make discoveries each round. Roll your dice, allocate them to the six cards that appear each round and then resolve each one by one. But victory isn’t assured as each card has a game changing effect that will need to be taken into account to make the best discoveries and win the game.
Hydris Card 1a
Palaudis Card 2a
Dice of the Occulites – The Exploration of Crepusculum is playable by up to 5 players (as long as the $50K stretch goal is hit) and takes 15-30 minutes to play. I have tested and played this game with grade 3/4s and they have picked it up quickly. After a game the mechanics fade into the background and you can concentrate on the tactical decisions when allocating dice. It has loads of replayability, is a blast to play and reveals a little more of the Occulite world, all in a small time frame. More information on each discovery will be hosted on this blog and the Darwin Games website once it is updated, which links it even closer to the rest of the Rise of the Occulites story.
I know that you will enjoy playing Dice of the Occulites, so please download the rules and ask any questions you may have. Now for your pledge you will be receiving two fun and fantastic games. One for when you crave a deep strategic game and one for when you are up for a faster game.
All the best guys and thank you once again for supporting the first game in the Rise of the Occulites Saga – Dawn.
Here is a super quick 4 minute video about why Dawn is worth backing. Enjoy!
You can help Dawn get some more exposure on Board Game Geek by thumbing our video here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/31330/dawn-rise-of-the-occulites/why-dawn-is-awesome-and-you-should-be-backing-i

A Look at the Campaign System of Dawn

G’day guys,

Today, we are going to take a brief look at the Campaign system in Dawn, how it has changed and why it is a bit different from other games.

Hidden Sungem coloured small

When playing a Campaign in Dawn: Rise of the Occulites, we call it playing a Sungem Season. To survive through the Long Dark of the extended nights on Crepusculum (lasting Earth months at a time), the Occulites need to collect Sungems (which are crystals that form in the ground and trap Sunlight within them. This trapped sunlight, gives off a soft light and a warmth that helps keep Occulite Home Caves warm over the Long Dark. Without this warmth, the Occulites will not survive. During a Sungem Season, Occulites also gain experience and learn new skills. The gaining of knowledge and skills is represented in the game by Learned Abilities and by Victory Points.

The Aim of a Campaign in Dawn

The aim of a Sungem Seasons is to gain enough knowledge and skills to survive through the Long Dark, putting them in a strong position for getting a head start on the next Sungem Season they will face. To win a campaign, you not only have to beat other Tribes, but you must actually survive in the first place. Yes, that’s right, there is a chance that at the end of the Sungem Season, your Tribe may not survive the Long Dark and will lose by default. Clever planning and play will ensure though that your Tribe survives. Sungems are important to retain heat in their Home Cave and Victory Points (representing experience) can help your Occulite get the most out of their situation by allowing you to reroll the dice your Sungems give you to create heat at the end of a Sungem Season. The player that has the most Victory Points and has enough Heat from their Sungems to survive, wins!

Innate Abilities

When playing Campaigns, you will usually use the advanced rules for Tribe creation. This allows you to not only choose which Tribe you want to lead, but also allows you to customize their starting statistics.

Once you have chosen a Tribe type, you will be granted some Innate Abilities. Now Innate Abilities are never lost. They are abilities that your Tribe members are born with and these cannot be changed for any reason. You never need to worry about losing them.

Learned Abilities

As you go through the Campaign, your Tribe will earn Sungems and Victory Points. These Victory Points can be spent to recruit Luftles to your Tribe or even gain Learned Abilities.

Now Learning Abilities can be gained in two flavours. They can be gained from the General Ability Pool, which are generic abilities available to each and every Tribe in the game. They are helpful, but aren’t particularly outstanding either. The other option is to spend them on Tribe Specific Learned Abilities. These are abilities that are only available to your Tribe. These are more powerful, but also used in more specific situations. These abilities also encourage the thematic use of your Tribe in game.

Scenario and Situational Abilities

There is also another type of Ability your figures can gain. These are Scenario and Situational Abilities. These are granted to your figures or your Tribe, based entirely on the actions that happen during a Scenario. For example in one of the Scenarios (The Ridge), there is a storm building as your Tribe fights to secure a high up ridge. Lightning splits the air in every direction and there is a chance one or more of your figures will be hit. This is terrible news during this scenario as if they are hit, they are removed from the board and count as being killed. However they then gain the ability ‘Eyebeam’ for the next scenario, a very powerful ranged ability. Another example is in the Podmothine scenario. As both Tribes are fighting against a common enemy, if either Tribe kills another Occulite figure, their Tribe gains the ‘Treacherous’ ability which allows other Tribes to ignore penalties for attacking your Tribe in a scenario. But it also gives you the ability to increase the damage your Tribe does. So what you do in a scenario really does matter! This is also reflected by statistics being awarded to Tribes for doing different things. They are not just automatically awarded.

Choosing a Scenario in Dawn

The combination of these things makes the selection of Scenarios very important. At different points in time, the different Tribes will be wanting different things and so will want to compete in different scenarios. Now, the Base game comes with 11 engaging, challenging and downright fun scenarios, with many different play styles across the board. Choosing which one to play is very important. Players both select a scenario and then refer to the appropriate time of day, adding a number of their Tribal Tokens to a bag which reflects the likelihood of that particular scenario occurring at that time.

For example, in Crepusculum, Nymphlets only spawn towards Dusk. The Scenario Nymphlet Season looks like this: 0  0  0  1  1  2  4  5  5  4

This means that you can’t even play this Scenario in a Campaign until the fourth game and don’t really have a good chance of it being selected until the seventh game. This keeps the world of Crepusculum thematic and make sure that the choices made during a campaign matters. If both players choose the same Scenario, it will automatically be played, but the Tribal Tokens are still added to a bag and are drawn to determine who is the attacker in the Scenario.

Killed Figures during a Campaign

If a figure is killed during a Scenario, it will be ‘Reborn’ in its Home Cave ready for the next scenario. But the Reborn process takes its toll on your figure and because of this, it will always come back a little bit weaker than before. This might cause it to lose a statistic, or sometimes even a Learned Ability, but you still have control even over this with the use of Boost cards from your hand if they are brought back during a Scenario due to the Reborn Track.


Objective Decks

If we can fund the game on Kickstarter and reach our Stretch Goal of $50,000 then we can afford to produce the Objective Decks for each Tribe.

Objective Decks are what they sound like, a small deck of cards that have Objectives that can be completed for benefits during the Scenario, or just held onto for a benefit for the campaign. They can be added to any Scenario, thus greatly enhancing the re playability of all scenarios (which are already very re playable).

Sample Palaudis Objective CardTaking a look at this sample Objective Card “Leap from Danger”, we can see a few things. It is a Palaudis Objective card and thus can only be used by them.

It has some blue text, in this case it reads “Take 2 successful Break Away Tests”. If you are able to successfully do this, you have two options:

1) You can claim the reward listed below that blue text. In this case it awards you a more restricted version of “Leap” a Learned Ability for the Palaudis. Then draw another Objective card Or,

2) You can place the card face down in your play area and draw another Objective Card. At the end of the Scenario, you will gain the benefits in the top right hand corner of the text box. In this case, it would award you 1 Sungem.

As you can see, the decisions made even with how you use the Objective cards is important.


We hope that this little insight into the Campaign System of Dawn – Rise of the Occulites has interested you and perhaps helped you decide to pledge and/or spread the word about the game as it will not be made if we cannot reach our target. We need your help to get Dawn: Rise of the Occulites more exposure, so please consider sharing this with your mates. We would love to have them join the fun!


Floris Tribe Expansion Box Lid

G’day guys,

The Kickstarter is SOOOOO close now. Just waiting for a confirmation of date. Extremely exciting times around here.

So I thought to tide you all over, I would upload the proposed box lid for the Floris Tribe Expansion. This is not 100% final and could change before production, but I am very happy with how it turned out. Feel free to use it as a screen wallpaper to brighten up your day with Floris-ey goodness. 🙂

Floris Cover low res

I would love to hear what you guys think of it. Also, if you have any questions about the game, now is a great time to ask them!


Concepts of Dawn Rise of the Occulites Gameplay Episode One

G’day guys,

I plan to release a series of short videos that take you through some of the gameplay concepts in Dawn: Rise of the Occulites.

The first in the series can be viewed right here:

If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please let me know and I’ll address it in one of the next few videos. I hope you enjoy it and please consider spreading the word.

Remember, Dawn – Rise of the Occulites will launch on Kickstarter with Eagle Games early in 2013.