Welcome to the Indie Tabletop Newsletter, hear from independent tabletop games designers about their current and upcoming projects. Take a look at the games we’ve already self-published and our upcoming Kickstarters, maybe even get yourself a free print n play game. Learn more about this newsletter here.
The End Times are now!
Cult of the Deep, a hidden role dice game for 4-8 players and plays in 45-60 minutes, launches on Kickstarter February 2nd. You are a cultist trying to establish your faction’s rise to power. Fight over rituals and mythical monsters as you seek victory and control of the Cult.
A social deduction game where actions speak louder than words and each action you take tells a story of who you are, or at least, who you want people to think you are.
There is no player elimination in Cult of the Deep. If you are killed, you become a Wraith, forever haunting the other players as you help yourself and your faction to win.
Welcome to a new year and new products brought to you by us over at Geeks Collab! If you follow us on social media you probably have already seen the launch of our Kickstarter for dice mimic minis. It’s a project we have been working on for a long time and have been eager to finish for you all. With other projects to fulfil, not to mention Christmas and the holiday season in general, we haven’t had a good chance to set them free into the world. If you’d like to get your hands on some fun, paint-yourself minis, these guys are the minis for you. You can follow us on social media to see the finished product we sent to a few of our friends to paint for us before launch. As always, you should check out our website for the most recent product launches, and be sure to check us out on DriveThruRPG for Adventure Post, NUKED (a collaboration with a friend), and so many of our other popular games!
Once our dice mimics have finished their run, keep your eyes open for more games we have planned for release this year, including a collaboration with another creator called “Jousting Jesters.” Follow along on all our socials, and be sure to let us know what you’re most looking forward to seeing from us this year!
The Board Game Survival Kit: funded on Kickstarter! As I write the project is over 250% funded, with 141 backers and over 200 kits claimed. It’s far more than a make 100 now. There’s still 17 days left to secure your very own Board Game Survival Kit, don’t forget about the Kickstarter exclusive customisation option. 😉
If you haven’t seen it yet The Board Game Survival Kit comes in a little mint tin with a combination of common board game player tokens all in one colour so you can always play as your colour. There’s a meeples version with extra meeples inside for those who love worker placement games and a deluxe version containing a mini set of dice with dungeons and dragons and tabletop role-playing games in mind.
There have been some wonderful conversations around how The Board Game Survival Kit could help those who find it hard to differentiate between colours but also how it might help to minimise risk when we can start playing games together again; everyone arrives with their components and dice and no need to share, then take your components back home with you.
I love that my idea for a fun novelty gaming accessory could actually help gamers to play in a more comfortable way for them.
Press and such: In January I was on The Tabletop Games Blog’s podcast “Let Me Illustrate” talking about the artwork for my games which made me realise just how passionate I get about my projects and how proud I am of what I’ve been able to achieve so far as a one-woman operation. This month I’ll be on The Tabletop Inquisition podcast, probably tripping over my words, I’ve been told there will be fun as well as serious questions to answer so I’m looking forward to that.
Next Games: I typically like to have some art or graphics in place before announcing a new game, so for now I’ll leave it nameless and themeless and just let you know that my next Kickstarter will be for two mint tin games, alike in theme and gameplay, that can also be combined to make a third game, sounds cool right? I think so at least, I have some fun ideas about how to make a game board that will fit in a mint tin too – don’t worry The Board Game Survival Kit is still my first priority until it is fulfilled.
Malum Hortus: I hope to get a lot of the artwork for it done in the downtime whilst I wait for The Board Game Survival Kits components to arrive. I also want to get a text only version of it on to TTS for some more regular play tests.
If any of this sounds interesting to you please subscribe to my Kickstarter updates on the Atikin Games homepage. Subscribe to this newsletter at the top or bottom of this page and join me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Etsy (all as AtikinGames)
After an extremely busy festive season spent sending parcels of murderous fun all over the world to fulfil our Kickstarter, we are excited to announce that the Kickstarter Edition of Murder on the Cards is now available to purchase on our very own website!
It’s a great moment to finally have our games in our hands, and be able to send them out to customers immediately – rather than be taking pre-orders through Kickstarter or Gamefound.
That means for UK customers that anything they order off our site can be with them in 2 to 3 days. Let the devious fun start!
If you haven’t heard of Murder on the Cards before, it is a quick, fun and light-heartedly dark card game for 2 to 6 players. Every round The Murderer tries to attack in new and crazy ways and all you have to defend yourself are the cards in your hands, your wits and (hopefully) the goodwill of those playing with you!
It is a party game, and a lot of fun in larger numbers, but also surprisingly well-suited to a little light lockdown fun for two.
A suspicious zoo keeper, nefarious meerkats and determined pandas. Will you escape the zoo? Pilfering Pandas is a solo, cooperative or competitive set collection game with a puzzely twist.
“Extinction Event” always comes to my mind when thinking of an example of a non-traditional game that just popped into being. It spontaneously spawned from equal-part desires to teach a young child the what/where/when/why/how of throwing things indoors safely, and to also impart some knowledge/learning through a fun, experiment-like game.
This past holiday season produced a few more examples. We had the intention to rattle through our traditionally boxed card and board games. In addition to the fun of playing the games, there was also the parental goal to identify those games we still like to play and those that are now a bit too young, or have lost their appeal in other ways – and to put them away. For some reason that goal suddenly made the idea of playing those games not nearly as appealing to the youngest family member! 🙂 So, what ended up happening is we spent a lot of time inventing, playing, refining, and then re-playing games that came out the blue – games from our brains. Ad-hoc, random, imaginative, and inspired games.
Perhaps inspired by another game we were just playing, these ideas often start with: “Hey! What about a game that…?” An example from this holiday is a game our daughter put together in a just few minutes using the same connecting blocks we use with “Cube-Or-ACK!” She called it “Stick-Stacks”.
How to play “Stick-Stacks”
1. Randomly choose three of the five coloured blocks without any player seeing. These are kept hidden until scoring.
2. Each player writes down a “target number” that is within the range of the total blocks for each colour (eg: from 1-30). This paper is folded to hide the number, and then it is given to the next player on the left. The paper is not opened until scoring.
3. As fast as they can, players begin simultaneously drawing blocks from the pile of all five colours, sticking them together into one long stack.
4. Once all the blocks have been drawn, it’s time for scoring. Only blocks of the three chosen colours are counted. Whichever player comes closest to their “target number”, with one of the valid colours, wins.
Add a couple other minor scoring rules and there you go – instant game! And one we played repeatedly over the next few days, testing out new strategies to try to improve our own chances of winning while confounding the others.
Other times, we might create a variant of one of our existing games by asking: “How about this time we…?” An example of this type of thinking during the holidays produced “The Car Game”, which was…
In the meantime, we are working on getting The Emerald Flame into everyone’s hands. It is currently in the later stages of pre-production, and we are excited to share a picture of some of the latest samples! Check out our website for more info about the game. getpostcurious.com
I recently had a rather humbling play test experience. There were many issues with my TableTop Simulator (TTS) implementation, but the play testers identified a lot of other things which were not working in the game.
Having been away for a time and thinking through it, I can see that I had a lot of superfluous and/or not well integrated elements to the game. But then, I was already frustrated with issues with TTS, had a headache, and wasn’t in the best head-space.
This was a game I’d poured a lot of me into. I hadn’t originally intended to do so; I’d thought of it as being a possible candidate to shop out to publishers. But I created an entire world around it.
I was crushed. I doubted my ability to design games. Imposter Syndrome sank in and I really wondered why I even bother. I put it aside for a bit; I was really busy with the holidays and didn’t have too much time to mourn or worry about my baby.
A few days later it hit me. The thing I’d been describing as the main focus of the game was, as implemented, an afterthought. I had built in some complexity which wasn’t really needed. I’d pared it down some previously, but, still, I’d forgotten that:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A few days later it hit me. The thing I’d been describing as the main focus of the game was, as implemented, an afterthought. I had built in some complexity which wasn’t really needed.
I’d pared it down some previously, but, still, I’d forgotten that:
Moreover, I’d let details get in the way of the experience I was trying to create for my players. I’m still reworking, but even though it was painful at the time, I think I’ll have a much better game as a result.
This isn’t meant to be a story to place me on a pedestal; it’s intended to show how some sleep and perspective can lead to something better, even if it seems kind of dark at the moment.
It can really help to step away for a moment or to look at other inspiring things. Jesse Schell’s “The Art of Game Design” has a companion deck of cards and mobile application; either of which can help provide focus or an answer to game design problems. As I was writing this I pulled out a card from the deck, getting:
The Lens of Balance: There are many types of game balance, and each is important. However it is easy to get lost in the details and forget the big picture. Use this simple lens to get out of the mire, and ask yourself the only important question: “Does my game feel right”
It really hit home. I had lost sight of the essence and focus of the game. Sometimes, even when it looks like your design doesn’t work and you question your abilities, stepping back for a moment might give you some needed clarity.
Just don’t stay away too long!
And to celebrate this launch, we want to pay you to run Relics! If you have a game running on Twitch or Youtube or in a podcast, we will pay you to run Relics to help others see how great the game can be! Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Relics: A Game of Angels is a unique roleplaying game where the players take the roles of fallen angels, stuck on earth, abandoned by God and surrounded by enemies. Only their pasts contain the answers to their future, and the group builds their pasts together through exciting flashback mechanics that mean even you don’t know everything about your own characters. You can pick up the Quickstart rules on DriveThruRPG and find out more at tinstargames.com
Love is in the air as we have been busy focused on running our Valentine’s Day Campaign. What better way is there to spend time with your partner than playing a game? Especially a game which gets you talking together about your feelings! And of course, we are offering our 20 Dreams Card Game all wrapped up in red ribbon, just for the occasion. If you are someone who according to your partner doesn’t talk about your feelings enough; then surprise your partner with a little game of 20 Dreams to get those emotional juices going.
The 20 Dreams Card Game is a perfect Valentine gift as it helps strengthen relationships and deepens your understanding of one another with hilarity and intrigue. Imagine spending the evening sharing your wildest dreams with the person you love the most!
Our latest blog is of course all about the language of love, which if you are interested just hop onto our website and take a look to get some top tips for long lasting relationships.
ZU Tiles: Hime is a strategic tile placement game based loosely on the creatures of the Chinese Zodiac.
Pretty much the biggest news for us this time around was that we were recognized as a Top 10 game in 2020 (#5!) by the YouTube influencer Minimum Player Count. It was a total shock to us but a very pleasant one.
Other than that we have publishers in Japan, Switzerland, and Malaysia currently reviewing the game for possible publishing/distribution.
Additionally, we are getting quotes to print our next release, Starter Set 2. And we are hopeful that can be out sometime in April. After that it will be on to producing booster packs. But booster packs will be a huge undertaking and much different than how we printed our Starter Sets. Wish us luck!
This month, Yub Nub Games achieved a major milestone! I am currently awaiting the physical proof of Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1, which will come in a fancy pants magnetic flap box (see image for the digital proof).
Previously I had prototypes of the game manufactured in the US, to the tune of 15 complete sets, with an additional ten decks for play testing. Most of those boxed sets went to reviewers and previewers in preparation for the Kickstarter campaign, but this time it is the finished game that I’ll be doing my first full production run with.
If the physical proof turned out great, then I’ll be giving approval to print 2,000 copies of the game, likely to start after Chinese New Year. Then if all goes well, I will receive the units in late April or May and fulfil backer orders and pre-orders immediately after receiving the games! Next month, I hope to share a picture of what the physical proof looks like, so stay tuned!
If you are interested in getting your own copy of Top Tale, it is available for pre-order on BackerKit, in addition to other Kickstarter-exclusive options. Alternatively, you can wait for it to become available through online retailers this Summer!
Also in the works is a release of Top Tale on iOS. The mobile app demo is already available on Google Play, but soon it will also become available to play for free on the Apple app store. The app is undergoing a major face lift over the next few months, including being able to unlock cards purchased with the physical game, social media login, and a new and improved user interface!
Hey Guys! It’s Stratera again! It’s been a while since our last newsletter update here! If you can’t recall who we are, Stratera is a history and archaeology-themed social deduction game!
You might have wondered what we have been up to during the past few months, so here is our update. First of all, we have done our very first giveaway of academic/looter-themed dice! We had anticipated more participants, but as a new team, we are learning as we go 😀 and, hey, we gave out some Stratera-exclusive prizes and our winners loved it!
We’ve also been working on a full website that showcases the game in different dimensions. So please check it out for some archaeology game fun! We hope to add more exciting content there as we try our best at website building and will continue to improve it.
We’ll be doing our first official print run soon, followed by setting up the Kickstarter campaign. It is one step closer for you guys to get hold of a physical copy of our game! Do follow us for further updates!
Our team has only formed in 2020, so this is a brand-new experience for us. No matter how things turn out, we all hope for the best and hope you guys can all tag along on our journey in realizing Stratera. We encourage you to contact us if you’d want to participate in playing or reviewing the game with us!
If you’re interested in our game and would like to get in contact, reach out to us by shooting us a message on social media @strateragame, or email email@example.com. We look forward to your messages, and wish everyone a happy new year!
PS: We have been holding our new logo in our hands for a while, and now it is out! do check it out XD
Despite December through February being a busy time for me every year, I’ve actually managed to make some decent progress on several games that Grumpy Spider has in the works right now.
The foundation for Rucksack’s relaunch on Kickstarter is nearly complete. We’ve lowered the quantity we plan to order, reworked the shipping/fulfilment, and are even considering another funding source that would reduce our Kickstarter goal even further. Currently, we’re working on getting the artwork 100% complete. Once we have that, we can send out more preview copies and set an official launch date! It’s taken some time to get everything ready, but I want to be sure that we’ve learned from our last campaign so we can relaunch in the strongest way possible.
I was also able to get in some more playtests for Messy Monsters. So far, it’s been a big hit for players 8 years old and under, which is its target audience. At this point, I’m just looking to adjust a few small things that I hope will make the rules even easier to follow, but the core of the gameplay is pretty solid. Next up is commissioning the artwork!
Lastly, we’ve finally been able to playtest my latest creation. It’s so early on that it doesn’t even have an official name but has been code named Hodgepodge. I’m really happy with how well the playtests went, even with major parts of the game that still don’t quite work. Hopefully, we’ll make some good progress on it in the coming months.
Instead, I’m doing 4 game jams, each a weeklong and I’ll announce them on the twitter feed. There are no prizes, no publication deals. This is just for fun and educational purposes. Make a game about each historical figure!
Week 1: Stagecoach Mary
Week 2: Black Caesar
Week 3: George Washington Carver
Week 4: Madam C.J. Walker
Make a game, share the game! This is about sharing and teaching about history.
Black History Month has been important to me as both a person in the world and a student of history. Black Lives Matter, let’s keep making that statement true.
The Grand Opening: The Grand Opening is the ‘sequel’ to The Dark Imp game, Restaurantrepreneur. The café you created in the first game is now open for business.
You’ve worked towards this moment for so long. You’ve spent countless hours on the menu, perfected the decor and spread the word far and wide… now it’s time to fling the doors open and welcome the first customers to your new cafe. But can you get the right food to the right customers at the right time? Or will unserved dishes pile up while fussy customers get increasingly hangry?
Lingo Land: The King of Lingo Land sets all visitors a task and only the highest performers are admitted. You’re under pressure and you need to impress. Five complete words must be created to secure your entry. The longer the word, the more you’ll score and topical words are even better. But beware, gobbledygook will get you nowhere!
You can find these, and our other PnPs by clicking the ‘shop’ tab on The Dark Imp website.
Uranus! Kickstarter: Uranus! launches on Kickstarter on 2nd March. This is a life and death alien space race for 3-6 players. This cooperative game uses simultaneous action with each player controlling their own moon board and alien race. Time is short – you have to optimise your resources in a series of ever changing “draw and erase” networks to develop critical technologies, develop infrastructure and ultimately make your escape to Uranus. Your race has special abilities which allow you to help your neighbouring moons.
You can sign up for Kickstarter notifications by clicking the ‘Kickstarter’ tab on The Dark Imp website.
Last month I went over how the artist for the game was chosen and his agreement to work on the project. But in order to get this artwork I’d have to splash the cash. I decided that to show the game in its full glory I’d have to get the art sorted before Kickstarter launch. So I took the risk of paying for it up front, with an aim successfully crowd-funding and then one day making it back in sales. A risky business I’m sure you’ll agree, but a necessity to make the game a reality.
With the artist beginning to work on pieces for the game, I decided it was time to make the playtest cards a little nicer. I knew how I wanted the cards to work but didn’t want to spend too long laying them out. Luckily I came across some software online which can be used to design Magic The Gathering cards.
Even though my game has nothing to do with MTG, it suited my needs well and before long I had some nice (if rather familiar) cards to playtest with.
I arranged an evening with a few friends to come on over and try out the game. After only one match it became immediately obvious to me this was not going to be it. It felt far too convoluted and nothing like as tactical as I’d wish. So back to the drawing board it was!
The next version was more streamlined. As you’ll know by now from previous issues, in the game you play the part of an alien species. Instead of cards being laid out all over the table, this was the first version which featured a single line of them representing activities you can see in the vicinity of your craft. It had a distance based mechanic to it, where cards at the start of the line were easier to grab than those further along it. I remember taking this version along to the UK Games Expo for various friends to try out.
It was now getting close, but still wasn’t quite there. I disliked the distance mechanic, it felt like it limited player options too much. I have always been a fan of games which are simple to understand and learn, but which have truly tactical decisions to be made in them every turn. I knew I wanted this for my game.
Over further months I altered the mechanics and rules as necessary, tweaking aspects here and there, and finally coming up with the game as it is today. Next month I’ll go over what’s happened since going public, and where we currently are with plans for manufacture and launch.
In addition, we’ll be needing to have a second print run on SSO that we’ll be looking to launch around the same time as Turing so that we can hopefully ship the two small sized games from manufacturing together. We’ll be going to Kickstarter with a slightly tweaked second edition of SSO then, along with Turing, hopefully in the spring/summer.
In the longer term we hope that people will be sat around tables playing games again in person soon enough that we can make Song Of Tales a realistic late 2021/early 2022 launch, but if not our next project is a hidden movement game that we’re quite excited about that might be able to fill in one of those slots, so there’s always something coming up next.
Otherwise, the fulfilment of SSO: Rage of Montalbano is going along fine, we’ve just completed ordering of the 110 playmats from the campaign and the packaging that we’ll be needing to send everything out. LongPack has printed the plastic tokens and wooden meeples with corrected colours already, so it’s an exciting time to be alive for sure.
Castleshire: Biggest news come from the community front. We still cannot believe how much value we get from the Facebook group “Board Game Design Lab Community”. They helped again solve a challenging situation, this time with our huge play mat that we could not fit into our game box. One person suggested using a cloth instead of neoprene. Considering our game has a medieval theme, that idea has proven to be the perfect solution. We also replaced the unaffordable scrolls with little multi-page books; see photo. They are so much fun. We have entered a stage where we can build our final prototype to get a better feel for the eventual components and show it off to the world.
Contest: We have been brave and entered the Cardboard Edison Award 2021. Knowing that the jury is possibly looking for more meaty games than our light Castleshire, we enjoyed the journey submitting our game including a pitch video we needed to create in just a few days; see link. Enjoy watching!
Ganz: A fantastic movement is happening in New Zealand. Most board game designers are loosely organized using a Facebook group called the Game Artisans of NZ. After years of just hanging out together and attending events, we have just got our group logo thanks to Garphill Games. We’re also working on a public website from and for designers. I can imagine, this is going to be interesting and valuable for designers all around the world.
Unboxings: We have got the latest Designer Pack from Longpack and published an unboxing of it (youtu.be/kAJtRnhRS1U). If you are self-publishing and Longpack is in your shortlist, consider ordering the pack and have a look at the high-quality components.
The game started with 4 tokens – 3 material resources, that are scattered across the map (and on planets) and Research. This was well enough; however, The Interregnum has never been a game about wars in space, and it really isn’t just about building stuff. I felt that the game needed to simulate a bit more of the underlying social issues a would-be Emperor or Empress would encounter. At about that time we introduced the Unrest token.
Next, I added a form of currency. I didn’t want to make a variation on galactic credits, so I created a system of Loans and Debts. Debts were gained when building beyond your resource capabilities, while Loans were gained from populations under the influence of a friendly Trader.
The Debt/Loan system also worked quite well; it gave the players the feeling of managing a huge economy while juggling everything else. It also let me vary the events and crisis cards with different options and different effects. It all came crashing down when I decided to add a 7th element to the game, Influence.
Influence represents the final aspect in the simulated Empire – the political actions of your in-game character. Influence also introduced a special game piece called the Retinue and several changes to the way the game round progresses. After some play testing, I realized (or more specifically, my playtesters made me realize) that I moved away from some of the core elements that made the early versions so fun. Part of what was wrong was the fact that players had to manage 7 tokens with very different functionalities, so a culling was more than needed.
I merged Loans and Influence into a single token, Influence. They had a lot of common functionality, and where they didn’t overlap it was easy enough to adapt the game around the new token. The same could be done with Unrest and Debt, they were even more alike than the previous pair.
Finally, because they are functionally opposite, and so I am now experimenting with a two-sided token: one side Unrest, the other Influence. A friend suggested using a polygonal shape for the token and I really liked the idea of a triangular token. I didn’t realize this at first, but the triangular tokens can be arranged into a hexagon, which contains 6 tokens, which is exactly the maximum number of Unrest tokens a player can hold. I personally like to think it’s a sign that I’m going in the right direction!
Colour MY Kritters: In this edition I’d like to tell you more about our new game for kids and families! As mentioned last time, it’s a deck-building card game for kids. We want to make this popular mechanic available for younger players. The labelled age is 6+, but with the simplified junior rules, I believe it can be played with even younger kids as well. If they can play Crazy 8s / UNO, then they can also try this.
As an introductory deck-builder, Colour MY Kritters (or CMYK, as we affectionately call it) also works as a gateway game for older players. We made advanced rules and a 9-card expansion for more experienced players.
Designer: CMYK is designed by fellow indie game designer Jørgen Brunborg-Næss. He self-published the Green Box of Games in 2017 after successfully funding it on Kickstarter. Now he also pitches to larger publishers, but for this game he partnered with me. The solitaire mode is co-designed with fellow Norwegian Jon Songvoll and myself.
Developer: Over the last year, since Jørgen first approached me about running a Kickstarter campaign for CMYK, I’ve contributed to developing the game, discussing rules, playtesting, logo, graphic design, etc, as well as setting up the Tabletopia version and website. Jørgen and I have cooperated on marketing on social media and with a Gleam contest. I think we’re a good team, and I believe Jørgen feels likewise 🙂
Artwork: Jørgen purchased the original artwork online at Humble Bundle before contacting me. It’s made by two artists from Ukraine that specialize in 2D digital art. So I can recommend looking for such sources of ready-made professional artwork that will be a lot less expensive than commissioning custom art for your game.
Graphic Design: When Jørgen approached me, he had already made a Print-and-Play version with the artwork. By creating an entry for this on BoardGameGeek, he effectively self-published it. From there it was most practical (and cheap) to have Jørgen prepare PDFs for printing the prototype/KS preview copies and PNGs for Tabletopia. He also made the images/graphics and even the videos (!) for our Kickstarter campaign. For the Kickstarter edition, I am hoping to get a professional graphic designer on board.
Publishing: Jørgen definitely pulled his weight as part of the publishing team, but he wants to focus on design and I want to focus on publishing. So I’m happy to talk with any of you that might also like to cooperate like I did with Jørgen.
A couple of tips: In addition to getting affordable ready-made artwork, I recommend having space in your box for sleeved cards. This is especially important for deck builders where you shuffle the cards constantly, and also for kids’ games where the hands might not be squeaky clean…
And I recommend translating your game rules to several languages. Kickstarter backers or other gamers will often do it in return for a free copy or two of the game, and other indie publishers are happy to trade services.