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.

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At its core Play For Keeps is three friends making board games. We started kicking around the idea of working together a few years ago. Initially we thought this would be straight forward, after all we all worked in the industry and know the basic dos and don’ts. Our plan, design a small-scale game ourselves, get it on Kickstarter, get funded, start building our reputation and be on our way to world domination, within a year or so. The reality was somewhat different.

We spent a significant amount of time working on a game, that in the end just was not very fun. Deflated but undeterred, we took a step back and decided to reach out to some designers we knew. What we ended up finding was some super talented people right on our doorstep.

We quickly signed up a delightfully small and clever game Vidimus designed by Mandela Fernandez-Grandon and went full steam ahead to launching a Kickstarter, renaming and retheming the game to Overstocked. Then COVID-19 happened.

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Needless to say the wheels came off our plans there for awhile, but we used the time productively, we’ve created some mini-expansions that are both thematic and mechanically interesting, not to mention completely redoing the artwork. We are now back on track and so excited to be launching Overstocked on Kickstarter.

Overstocked Kickstarter page

Pilfering Pandas funded on Kickstarter in just 30h and we’re already heading towards our second stretch goal! We’ve already unlocked a new red panda role card and next up is upgraded card stock. We’ve also named our Octopus Oona and the frog name will be announced shortly. If you want a chance to influence the names of the animals in Pilfering Pandas, head over to our Kickstarter page and have a look at our updates.

We’ve also been getting great feedback about our app implementation of the solo version which you can download and play for free for the duration of the Kickstarter. If you’re interested, head over to our Kickstarter page to learn how it works and to download the app!

Pilfering Pandas on Kickstarter

Partners is a smash hit! This new RPG from Tin Star Games has been described as “doing for procedural stories what Fiasco does for coen brothers crime stories”. A love letter to the mystery genre, it also is designed for just two players making it perfect for an intimate gathering in these times of COVID. It also plays solo and with bigger groups and needs no GM – a system of random card draws from a regular pack of cards produces the mystery step by step until – only at the very end – does the murderer become apparent.

Funding at 350% on Kickstarter and shattering 7 stretch goals, we are now taking late pledges! The PDF is already released so backing now gets you the game instantly!

Late pledge here!

Hey everyone! With only two months to launch now, things are starting to get exciting! There have been a number of updates since last month, the most important of which is that we’ve brought forward the Kickstarter launch date of UFO Wave by one day to Thursday 29th July at 12:00 GMT. There are a number of reasons for this. From 30th July-1st August we will be promoting the game at the UK Games Expo. It felt appropriate to be at home for the initial launch hours to allow for deeper monitoring and getting the word out. We are no longer governed by the start time of the Expo, so can launch at mid-day, hopefully a more agreeable time for our backers.

We’ve now added some early bird rewards to the campaign! Initial backers will be able to get a discounted price for the game! In order to ensure you grab one of these we recommend you head to the Kickstarter preview page and click the Notify button to receive official launch updates.

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Regarding the Games Expo, it’s now been confirmed that we are going to be situated on Gamequest Avenue at stand 2-1057. It’s kind of North East from the main entrance with the infamous Catan red sheep! Come track us down to have a go at the game, meet our mascot, grab some freebies and chat with the creator.


It’s now time to let you know about our planned giveaways. We’re going to be giving away two exclusive framed pictures of the main UFO Wave box art signed by both the creator and the artist! One of these will be given away in advance of the launch via Instagram. The other will be given away to one of the lucky backers of the game at the UK Games Expo. Keep an eye out, and if you want to be in with a chance of winning one of these be sure to follow us on Instagram, or come see us at the convention.

UFO Wave official website

I am super excited! The first production copy of Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1 is set to arrive in the next 2-3 weeks! If all is in order, I will give the go ahead for final assembly of 2,000 units of the game. By the end of June, all those games should be headed my way, arriving sometime in August (hopefully just in time for my birthday!). So next month, I should have some pictures to share with you all the final design in physical form.

Something exciting that happened to me personally, is that I received a promotion and a new role in my day job at HP Inc. I have been designing motherboards for Z by HP Desktop Workstations for the last eight years and wanted a change of pace. Although I cannot tell you what I will be working on in my new role, I am toying with ideas for a new title, “Developer of Super Cool Things ‘n Stuff”.

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Back to Top Tale… Over the next few months, a lot of stuff needs to happen. In preparation for receiving the Top Tale copies, I need to: lock down the BackerKit orders, print on the Lifetime Subscription certificates (picture shown as an example), prepare for shipping out the games with purchasing packaging materials and shipping labels, prepare to ship the donated copies to Child’s Play Charity and to deliver the donated copies for Toys for Tots, engage with the two online game retailers that have requested copies to sell, and do final setup to sell through Amazon. Add that onto a day job transition, and I am going to be one busy Peter this summer. At least all of it is super exciting!


Now, for what is next… I have already had plenty of card topics for Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 2, however I still need to work with backers that pledged to create a card for the next game volume. I want to try and get all their cards into Volume 2, unless they want to develop a card for a volume further down the road (lots of volumes planned). I also want to offer Top Tale: Tall Tale as part of the next Kickstarter, crowdfunding both The O.G. Volume 2 and Tall Tale in one go. So, in my “spare time”, I will be working on the next volumes and the next Kickstarter, which I believe all will happen in mid-2022.

Learn more on YubNubGames.com

Rucksack’s prelaunch page is now live on Kickstarter! We have our final box design and review copies have been printed and sent out. There’s still a lot to do, but things are coming together. We’ve finally settled on an official launch date of Tuesday, July 20. It’s close to two months away, but it will be here before we realize it!

With this relaunch, we’re doing everything we can to learn from our original campaign and make sure Rucksack is poised for success this time around. That’s why we’re planning to simplify the reward tiers to help reduce back-end complexity, reduce the overall order quantity to lower our funding goal, revamp how we plan to ship to make it more equitable and further reduce the funding goal, and collaborate with more reviewers to give backers even more confidence in how great Rucksack is!

The only thing we have left to do now is make the campaign page look as good as possible. Although that may sound like an easy project for some, it’s a giant one for someone as terrible at graphic design as I am!

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Thankfully, this is one of the more enjoyable aspects of publishing for me, despite my skill level. I’ve already learned a lot, so hopefully we’ll have one slick looking page by the time we launch!

Get notified when Rucksack launches!

Chess Attack has its origins way back in the depths of time. Growing up, we often played tabletop games, including both Chess and Dungeons & Dragons. At one point, we were playing quite a bit of Chess, but for D&D me it was a bit boring compared to more “realistic” combat systems. A pawn automatically taking a knight? A knight never falling to mishap when attacking a pawn? Surely a roll of the dice should figure in there somewhere!

Then, a large scale ship battle system in one rulebook introduced the idea of flipping over a token to show that a ship was damaged – it could still fight, but less effectively. And there—the idea that eventually became Chess Attack was born.

Years later, when our daughter became old enough, we introduced her to Chess. She came to know how the pieces moved and the importance of strategy. However, being young, she was naturally challenged to put a longer-term plan into effect, and she struggled with the idea that her pieces could just be taken. She also knew it was hard for her to win and any mistakes were deadly.

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Of course, we guided her in thinking ahead and the “are you sure?” prompt helped too. At some point, I remembered the game I had roughed together when I was young.


I brought out the old (and for some reason, very tiny) pieces to demonstrate the idea of attack and defence values, rolling the dice for both sides, and comparing the result to decide the winner. She was instantly attracted to the game play, and to the idea that you could have custom tokens for your own army. So of course, we each had to immediately make our own set of cardboard tokens—the “wounded” sides got particular attention. 🙂


One aspect of Chess Attack that grabbed her was the chance for the battle to go either way, or even end in a draw.


• Mistakes are not so final. Pieces could be wounded and live to fight another round, albeit with weaker stats.
• The more experienced player might not so easily prevail. Luck could turn the dice against them, and an attack they should have won could end in a draw, a weakened position, or even an outright loss for their side.


Another valuable part of the game play is the repeated adding up of the support values from the other pieces. Having the supporting pieces affect the attack and defense values of the two pieces actually engaged in the current combat helps keep careful planning top-of-mind.


• What do you need to have an overwhelming advantage?
• Or to counter one you see building against you?


Practicing this thinking quickly improved her attacks and defenses in both Chess Attack and Chess itself. However, if a game was taking too long or didn’t have enough action, she would definitely place the fate of her pieces squarely in the hands of the RNG gods, and just roll the dice.

Read full article (w/ links)…

Surviving a failed Kickstarer – We had a Kickstarter campaign for Bushido Duels back in 2018 which failed “horribly”, since we believed in the game (and still do!) we managed to get it produced anyway. Now we’re looking at a new title and are considering Kickstarter once more so let’s go through what went wrong in the first one and what we can do to make it right!

The first mistake! Marketing! – We basically announced the game to the world through the Kickstarter, no one except our significant others knew anything about the game. We hadn’t sent any review copies to influencers and we barely had a social media presence.

For a future Kickstarter we’re better prepared. Thanks to Bushido Duels we’ve gotten to know a bunch of cool people in the Board gaming community that will be able to help us spread the word. We have an actual presence on social media now (checkout @frozenmazegames on Instagram).

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The second mistake! The video! – We had a sort of a nice video (youtube Bushido Duels trailer) but the play statistics showed that few watched it to the end, which tells us something about it. We combined a game presentation with a rules explanation video in a tad slow tempo resulting in a mish-mash that didn’t quite grab the viewers attention.


For an upcoming Kickstarter we will likely be two or three videos, one presenting the game, one explaining the rules and a third showing the game played. Combined with the above marketing adjustment we’d also have some content from influencers to present.


The third mistake! Funding goal. – We set the funding goal way to high, we set the goal to cover the entire production run, with a low unit cost we needed a high number of backers (> 500 of you!). For a brand new company with no reputation, no miniatures and no dedicated PR budget to make a professional quality Kickstarter campaign, this was a tad much.


Things we did right:
– The game! It is a very good game, at least that’s what people keep telling us, we’re happy we funded the game and made it a real product for people to play and enjoy.
– Planned updates! We actually had a set of updates planned in beforehand to spread out during the campaign.
– Shipping solution! We managed to figure out shipping to all the little corners of our planet. Maybe we could have made the table easier to read by grouping regions together.
– Cancelling! It was definitely the right call to cancel the campaign when the writing was on the wall. We reached out to the backers and took their details and could give them the good news when the game was finally released.


We learned a lot thanks to this first failed Kickstarter and a possible campaign for a future project will fare better, or at least, we won’t make these mistakes again.


Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss Kickstarter success/failure more.

More info of the completed game

Roll up, roll up! Come and join our game jam! Until 21 June we are running an informal game jam. It’s just for fun, and oh my but it will be a lot of fun! The challenge is to make a very small game on a big theme.

There are five themes to pick from: oil spills and earthquakes, voter suppression, automated decision making, building nonviolent protest movements, and representation in children’s picture books. More information, including videos and articles (if that’s what you like) is available at the below link.

It’s all for fun, so come along and join in! Perhaps you’ll get some great ideas for your next game? Perhaps you’ll just make some doodles on a bit of paper. Perhaps your thoughts could help someone else! See what others are doing on Twitter by searching for #SmallGameBigTheme, or join our discord at discord.gg/fNGmxkVneK

More about the game jam!

Playful Pets: 3 games in 1 now has a Kickstarter preview page! You can find the link below; I’d love if you could click the ‘notify me on launch’ button on the page as building a following on the project is a very important step.

For now, more about the games! Playful Pets: Cat and Dog edition contains 3 games: Feline Felonies, Canine Capers and Animal Alliance! On the Kickstarter campaign you’ll also be able to get Feline Felonies and Canine Capers as stand-alone mint tin games if you have a preference or want some nice little travel sized games.

In Feline Felonies you take charge of a neighbourhood cat whose goal is to be the greatest thief around. You’ll steal toys and other items cats believe to be toys from around the board as well as from other cats. Get the most highly valued toys home to win and be crowned most felonious of the felines.

Canine Capers is a cooperative game which also allows for solo game play. It has dogs investigating their neighbourhood, sniffing out clues and returning them to ‘Canine P.D.’ to solve the imagined capers going on in their town.

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Sometimes clues are lost to those stealthy, naughty cats who have been creeping in to the canine’s territory; but with the help of some other furry friends, we can raid the cats toy chest and earn some clues back.


In Animal Alliance the felines are still doing their felonious best to steal those toys while the canines are returning toys to the lost and found. The twist is each player takes control of a cat and dog team who live in the same house, they have different goals and clearly different moral values but as pet siblings they share a combined score.


Feline Festivities and Canine Christmas are the planned stretch goals for this campaign. They have similar game play but with a festive theme, more on that next month 😉


The Board Game Survival Kit is now 100% fulfilled and all the kits can be found on the Atikin Games Etsy store along with some Board Game Survival Kit inspired tote bags that feature one large meeple or a row of 5 smaller meeples either plain or with the “I play [colour]” text, or even with your own custom text included. I’m hoping these bags will be used for board game swag at conventions, as well as making a wonderful bag for life for any occasion.


The Indie Tabletop Newsletter is now on its 12th edition! Next month will be its first anniversary. It’s been wonderful watching the readership and designer list grow this year and I hope it will continue to go from strength to strength. I’m hoping to make some changes for the anniversary edition that will make the other newsletter pages in the links at the top of this page more useful for our readers and designers alike. So stay tuned and thank you for reading!

Playful Pets on Kickstarter

I’m Cassie and I run Katzenspiel Solutions, which started as a business that digitises boardgames onto TTS and Tabletopia, I’ve digitised quite a few games for Half-Monster Games (Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Trust Me, I’m a Superhero), Grand Gamers Guild (Endangered and Gorinto), Great Games (Fairy God Plumber, Lost in Valhalla, Lost in Jurassica), Sunrise Tornado (Cat Sudoku and Macaron), Tin Star Games (There’s Been a Murder), and Sunrise Game Studio (Mythalix).

I then started helping local games business Half-Monster Games with Kickstarter campaigns and playtesting before working on developing Kleptokittens! I also have a small game store on my website katzenspielsolutions.com.au which has a lot of local and kickstarter games I’ve worked with the creators of.

Kleptokittens! came about because my cats keep breaking into my neighbours house and stealing things, so it seems like a cute theme to use for a memory game and a spray bottle was a perfect push your luck choice.

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It’s been a really entertaining and exciting time to see the art come in from my amazing artist Crystal, she’s been turning ideas into the cutest little treasures. I also had the pleasure of having Kaiami (of Cat Rescue and Cat Sudoku fame) drawing up my two babies for the main card art.


I’m hoping to launch my kickstarter on June 22nd (23rd in Australia AND my birthday!) I hope you’ll all join me to help turn this little dream into reality.


You can also play the prototype version for free on TTS right now (please note, I am going to upload a full art version once the project funds) – steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2163510873

Link to Kickstarter

Well, things at Man O’ Kent towers are pretty full on at the moment. We finally have a shipping date for our most recent Kickstarter and that means we’ve got a launch date for our next one!

SSO: Rage of Montalbano is shipping out from Shanghai at the start of June, arriving in the UK ready for fulfilment at the end of June. It’s been a tough year for sorting out things like international shipping for obvious reasons and we’ve picked up a few delays meaning we’ll be going a few weeks over our intended delivery date. Rage of Montalbano is still available for late pledges on Crowd Ox for the next few weeks when we’ll close the pledge manager before launching the pre-release.

Being close to completing fulfilment means we’re going to launch our next Kickstarter at the start of July for Turing, a pocket-sized image interpretation game of proving your humanity by connecting with others. Turing is jammed with high quality surreal imagery but with a small footprint and low price. Search for “Turing” in games on Kickstarter in July.

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Our YouTube channel with designer Mike Hutchinson where we discuss designing miniatures games Rule Of Carnage is growing steadily with a building audience for the video and podcast versions. In it Mike and I have (sometimes fairly rambling) conversations about designing skirmish miniatures games, from movement to terrain and setting to line of sight we cover most subjects.


In personal matters we’re currently moving house with a two-month-old, so there’s a lot to juggle going on, things are under control, just about.


Check us out on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts under Rule Of Carnage and take a look at Turing when it launches in July!

Rule Of Carnage

We are very excited to be going to UK Games Expo this year, our first ever games conference! We will be at stand 2-330 and will be on the lookout for familiar names to say Hi to, so do come and visit us if you are planning to attend. There will be some giveaways, goodie bags, a chance to play a round of 20 Dreams and meet the 20 Dreams team. Lots of preparation and planning in June for us to do to make it a really special event.

Our website is continually being worked on and developed as we add more and more content and extend our reach across different sales platforms.

June is a month for celebration and a key milestone for us, as we initiated our Kickstarter this time last year, so 20 Dreams will be 1 year old.

20 Dreams website

Our pre-order store is now open for Cult of the Deep! Cult of the Deep is a hidden role dice game for 4-8 players where you are a cultist trying to establish your faction’s rise to power. You will fight over monsters and rituals as you seek victory and control of the cult. A game usually runs between 45-75 min.

We had a very successful Kickstarter campaign and we are now in the process of finalizing files to send to our manufacturer. Visit our Kickstarter page for more details about the game and what to expect from us as we work to deliver this game to our backers.

Campaign page and pre-order

Attack from Marrs Games is getting ready for the summer! Our company will be moving towards eco friendly products. This means SUMMONED is getting a box re-design and you all will start seeing SUMMONED at the cons this summer!

To make summer even better! We are moving forward with opening up our first Vegan Doughnut food truck / Portable board game cafe! So if you are in the Milwaukee, WI (USA) area. Keep your eyes open this summer! or stop in on our site to see the menu and more!

Website

Castleshire: Our factory has started on the white sample and we are eagerly waiting for their delivery. In the meanwhile, we have balanced all asymmetric guilds and we will do heaps of playtesting over the coming weeks. With the three editions planned for our game, we also polished the expansions, so they work with all editions smoothly. We are also in the process of creating a new insert for our wooden game box. It now consists of fixed and detachable compartments and a twist to where we store the rulebook. Most excitingly, we have hired a well-known artist for the box art. We cannot wait to share progress in July when she has the first drafts ready. After half a year of waiting, the game’s name Castleshire is now trademarked.

Kickstarter: We decided to postpone our Kickstarter to launch towards the end of 2021. This allows us to manufacture production samples containing most of the final artwork, and we can distribute these copies to reviewers who require a fair amount of time themselves, and we prefer to be in no rush.

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Events: We attended BGBTB in Dunedin in May and gave away several trophies to people who beat the game designer Till in his own game. It is great to see that nearly all play testers offered their email address to be informed about our Kickstarter launch – feedback that makes us feel we are doing the right thing. The next event is the 2-day convention Wellycon in early June, and another BGBTB a week after. We are busy getting the marketing material together, laser-cutting trophies, and working on a new prototype to give people a close feel to what the final game will be like.

Subscribe on BoardGameGeek

I have recently been putting together a website for my designs – each available as a free print and play. I tend towards solo, puzzley strategy games but there’s a real mixture. Everything is a work in progress so if you have any feedback please let me know!

I’m doing design challenges on twitter every month. This month is “things you can do with cards” and last time it was “I’ll give feedback on your pitch.” These have been great practice for me to focus my thoughts on specific games and mechanisms, and write something meaningful/coherent in a small space.

On the horizon I’m looking forward to a few contests / game jams coming up. Running until the end of the month is the Button Shy 18-card RPG contest (seems like a fun challenge!). Michael Fox of Hub Games is running a games jam on his twitch channel (@idlemichael) from 19th-27th of June. There is also a fruitful discussion on the BGG Solo PnP contest which is due to run from July-October. I’m going to be running some “community events” for the contest like rulebook swaps, playtests, digital prototyping etc. Hope to see some of you there!

Alex Cannon Print and Plays

I have been BUSY in May! Not only did I toss together a couple of fun free games (a new one is posted on my links page), I have been involved in a couple of game design competitions. Out of that, I am planning and preparing a small multi-player journaling TTRPG for release on Kickstarter later this year. You’ll play as unexpected members of a coven trying to create a modern day grimoire while fighting off a modern evil. Try to gain the attention of a familiar, and maybe even learn about your own culture’s wise women and men while you’re at it! The working title is Toil and Trouble, so keep reading here for updates.

In June, I have an 18-card ttrpg entry for the Buttonshy competition: a space exploration game. Want to playtest? The cards are on TTS and you can play with or without me. Please email me at admin@biggirlgames.us if you want to try it out.

My goal is always to include more women, POC, and LGBTQ+ folks in my work and at the gaming table. Want to join me? I have some opportunities for collaboration. Let’s make great games together!

The Big Girl Games website

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