January 2021

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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The Board Game Survival Kit: It’s January! Which means its nearly time for The Board Game Survival Kit’s make 100 project to go live! I’m very excited for this little board game accessory, it’s a mint tin with game components in your chosen colour so that if a board game doesn’t have the colour you want you can still play using your Survival Kit.

I’ve had some wonderful conversations around how this could help those who find it hard to distinguish certain colours, you could have your Board Game Survival Kit ready to go with stickers on the pieces so you can tell which are yours.

I hope the Kickstarter video will be fun and sweet, I’m collecting video clips of gamers saying “I play [colour/any]” to do as a montage at the end of the video, I’m still looking for volunteers, if you’d like to get involved email me: nikita@atikingames.com.

Live Streams: December was an exciting month for me, I had my first guest appearance on a live stream with Diary Of A Lincoln Geek and my second on The Bezzy Bathtime Boardgame Blether, both of which can be found in my ‘press’ section.

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I was a little nervous before both of them but I really enjoyed the experience and made new friends in the process!

Atikin Games Store: I’ve been experimenting with where to sell my games, I have games listed on Amazon, eBay, Kofi, GameFound and Etsy. I wanted somewhere where buyers would feel safe rather than sending them off to a random website they’ve never heard of and somewhere with a built-in audience that I might benefit from, for these reasons Etsy has won for me and although my games are still on the other websites, I now think of my Etsy store as the home for my games and for my handmade items.

Some of you will know already that I love to make things, I took a short break from crafting whilst I worked on Tri To Win’s Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of 2020, I had every intention of continuing to craft and sell my makes after the campaign. Then 2020 was cancelled, I didn’t feel comfortable going to the post office during lockdown so I stopped selling online. Now it’s all different, the world is still full of Covid but I have two published games to sell so the post office is a part of my life whether I like it or not. That combined with the wonderful reception my handmade dice bags and plushie dice got from backers of Mini Memory Mischief’s Kickstarter campaign I’ve regained my confidence for crafting and selling my makes.

I plan to keep my Etsy store 90% gaming related so I’ve made lots of dice jewellery, meeple cross stitches and coasters that will be going up in the coming days, feel free to take a look, ‘Atikin Games’ is easy to find on Etsy and my 10% off New Year sale will continue until January 4th.

Survival Kit on Kickstarter

A New Year welcomes a chance to stop and dream a little, we are so proud of our achievements with the launch of our first game 20 Dreams, a successful Kickstarter campaign and a steady flow of sales up until Christmas. We feel very fortunate to have got this far and want to raise a glass of bubbly to all of you who helped us make our dream happen!

We have just had the longest day of what seems like the longest year ever, so much has changed in our world and as we pause to reflect on 2020 it is hard to remember back to last Christmas where there was just a rumour of a nasty virus.

The launch of 20 Dreams seems so timely as we venture into a new year with uncertainty in all areas of life. If we can dream dreams and talk creatively about our feelings then we will be able to find a way through what will be a tough year ahead for many.

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Schools and universities face challenges as they seek to help our young people come to terms with missed opportunities and for some no respite from unhappy homes. We hope that 20 Dreams will be a resource to educators everywhere to aid expression, creativity and most importantly fun.

Therapists face busy times with people needing extra support as they struggle to deal with the enduring stress of isolation and restrictions. We must not forget that one of the greatest punishments is to isolate a human being. 20 Dreams provides therapists with a resource to help adults and children express themselves and experience connection through play and therapeutic interventions.

Families will also continue to seek new ways to build strong attachments and a secure base with one another. Our dream is that 20 Dreams will become one of those games in the cupboard which gets pulled out on a rainy day and brings light and joy into the family home.

2021 is a year of challenge and opportunity, we are looking forward to continuing to build the 20 Dreams brand and extend our market presence. We hope that people will be drawn into the creative world of 20 Dreams and it will become a game to play in 2021.

20 Dreams website

Castleshire: A couple of highlights in December for our upcoming game. Firstly, we got in touch with our manufacturer to adjust a component from normal player boards to real scrolls (photo). The estimated cost increase just for the manufacturing was over US$50 per game despite we asked for 1,500 copies. That is unrealistic, obviously, hence we need to think about an alternative. Secondly, we decided on three editions for Castleshire: a retail version, a deluxe version, both mass-manufactured, and a handmade collector’s edition. For the latter, we are designing and prototyping one book-shaped game box after another with ornamental elements and a working latch.

Events: December’s highlight was a 4-day game designer retreat with board game designers from all over New Zealand with experience levels from first time designers to legends in the industry including Shem Philips (Architects of the West Kingdom) and Amanda Milne (Auztralia). While playing dozens of prototypes wasn’t enough, we also held a small unconference about publishing for indies and several talks and group discussions. Till’s game Castleshire was put under the microscope and thanks we found a mechanical flaw which we will work on fixing.

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Laser-Cutting: As a side-effect of making Castleshire’s collector’s box, we also experiment with jigsaw puzzles. There’s a 2.5D puzzle idea in Sven’s head for which we cut multi-material components. They are puzzled together in a way that leaves a storytelling experience – with the entire story hidden in the final puzzle and only visible to those who indeed did the jigsaw puzzle. We’re making some prototypes to share with others and see what their feedback is.

Unboxings: As a side hobby, we record the unboxing of new games that we open. We just released the video about Above and Below (youtu.be/CCPRgo6obu8). Titles like Tidal Blades, Upkeep and Last Aurora are planned for January.

Castleshire on BGG

As you’re probably aware by now, I’m an active UFO Investigator as well as a game designer. Next year I’ll be launching a new competitive card game called UFO Wave on Kickstarter via my company Paradigm Games. In previous articles I’ve discussed the early stages of development of the game, and it’s time to continue that tale now.

With the second version of the game planned out, and me convincing myself that this was going to be it, I decided it was time to start looking into the artwork for the game. At this point I had a big decision to make – would I go down the serious route or the tongue-in-cheek route? The UFO subject is very detailed, with some quite dark aspects to it in places, so highly detailed art pieces would suit it well. However it is also a fun subject with lots of opportunities for humour. I felt that this style would fit my personality better, and it would also make the game more accessible to gamers who did not have a pre-existing interest in the subject.

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With this in mind, I knew the perfect choice for the art. Many years ago I’d come across some cartoon alien-themed artwork online. It had a great quirky style to it, but it was also obvious that the artist had a big interest in the subject and knew their stuff. The trouble was that I had not saved copies of any of the art, and had no idea who this individual was, or whether they were still active. I decided to take up the challenge of tracking them down! After an extensive search online I eventually came across one of their old art pieces. And luckily for me it had their signature on it. Only the first initial and surname but that was enough to go on.

Armed with this information I then performed another search and managed to locate their website. It was now that I found out that they lived in the USA and were very much active! But there was still so much to find out. Would they be interested in working on the art for the game? Would they be able to create the art within a reasonable timescale? Would they be ok with me claiming full rights over the pieces?

Soon these questions would be answered. I contacted them on Facebook and arranged a Skye video call with them. When I went over my reason for getting in touch they were overjoyed and enthusiastically agreed to create the art for UFO Wave. I also discovered that the reason for their interest in the subject was because they’d directly had experiences themselves. This was great, and I felt would be a good selling point for the game.

However it was now time to get serious! Up until this point the game had been relatively free of charge, but to continue down the path I was on financial aspects would need to be considered…

UFO Wave official website

Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1 continues to collect pre-orders on BackerKit, through January, however don’t wait too long to pre-order your copy! The final artwork is almost complete and manufacturing of the game is expected to start in January.

Top Tale is a family-friendly card game where players tell stories and then vote on the top tale! The recommended player count is 2-10 players, for ages 10+, with an average game lasting 30+ minutes. The game can be learned in under two minutes, and it can be used as an ice breaker or team builder. The game designer, Peter Seiler, guarantees that you will get to know your fellow humans during gameplay.

Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1 is the first game in the Top Tale series, which includes 144 cards and an unlock code for the mobile app to allow you to play Top Tale anywhere using your mobile device. The Top Tale mobile app is currently available on Google Play as a free demo.

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Something else that is in the works, is the next two volumes of Top Tale, being “Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 2” and “Top Tale: Tall Tale”. The O.G. Volume 2 is a stand-alone volume of the original game where the deck of topics expands on the topics included in the first volume. There are at least three volumes planned in the O.G. series. With the Tall Tale volume, players are encouraged to stretch the truth when responding to topics. Both are expected to hit the crowdfunding scene in late 2021 or early 2022.

Pre-order now on BackerKit

Hi all! First time on the newsletter. My game ZU Tiles: Hime (Starter Set 1) recently released and is currently gaining traction and sales since it went direct to retail in late November. Starter Set 2 is currently in the works and should be available late Spring 2021.

But what exactly is ZU Tiles: Hime? Well, it’s a brand-new tile-placement game that shares a lot of DNA with collectable card games (meaning Starter Set 1 is only the beginning). It features endearing anime-style art and pits decks of tiles based on the creatures of the Chinese Zodiac against one another in head-to-head, pattern-making fun.

If interested in learning more about the game, there are a growing number of YouTube videos about it. Just search ‘ZU Tiles: Hime’, watch a few videos, and you’re good to go!

Buy ZU Tiles: Hime here

At Dark Imp HQ we’ve been working hard on increasing our range of print & play games. Two new games are now available, making six in total.

Bank or Bust: You headed west to make your fortune, but the situation is volatile. You’ve got to keep pushing your luck to improve your advantage and claim the bounty. But go too far and you may end up with nothing! Will you play it safe or risk it all on a big win?

Restaurantrepreneur: Your life-long dream of opening your own restaurant will soon become a reality. But first you must work on the menu, hire some staff, find a location, choose some fixtures and fittings and get the word out across the town. You have money in three different accounts at the bank. Use them wisely, or you may run out of money before you’re ready to open.

Our other PnP games are:
• Mini Town: A city-building game
• Palatial: A stately home puzzle
• Beach Life: A quest to help animals on the shoreline
• Castaway: An island which must be plundered for resources.

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All Dark Imp PnP games use standard D6s. One player throws the dice and all players simultaneously use the dice rolls on their own scoresheet. All games can be played with any number of players.

Dark Imp PnP Games

We are excited to share with you the latest for our game, Cult of the Deep, a preview page! This is our last step before we launch February 2nd, 2021 on Kickstarter. We would love to have you there with us as we bring Cult of the Deep to life. We would also invite you to check out our community as we will be having giveaways, game nights, and updates as we lead up to the launch of our Kickstarter. Come join us! Win some prizes, play games, and enjoy the community that has been developing over the last year.

Cult of the Deep Page

Hey, welcome back! We are in the midst of running a Kickstarter campaign for Standing Stones! We wrap up on January 4, 2021. The exciting part of that one is we are adding in a bonus game for free! Now you get 2 new roll and write games for $3! Pretty cool!! Plus it’s a game about Pie!

We’re also going to be launching a brand-new project: Wild, Wild West! It’s a roll and write about managing disasters in a Western Town. Each player is responsible for their own town. This game has a lot of dice rolling and trying to work out how to keep your town functioning: keeping cattle safe, bringing in new residents via rail lines, forming a posse to capture then jail outlaws, redirect varmints, and stock the saloon!

Mechanically, players are getting to keep 1 of their dice and use 2 of the other 3 dice. The other players are simultaneously using the remaining 3 dice. One of the dice activates the section, one carries out the action, the 3rd die is the disaster! Players will have fun getting their heads around the game and managing disasters.

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Wild, Wild West brings the fun and the theme! Hopefully you will check it out.

The really neat thing for me about the Old West was the wild west shows, while some were exploitative, there were certainly others. I’d encourage readers to go do some reading on Stagecoach Mary Fields. She was awesome and brave to boot! Maybe someone will make a game about her life!

Standing Stones Kickstarter!

Here at Big Girl Games my motto is: Play. Dream. Create. I invite all kinds of people to the table to do those things with me every day.

News: December is always a little tough, and so with the pandemic continuing and lots of folks’ holidays a little less bright than usual, I didn’t actually get much new work done on any of my games. I just want to offer some love and comfort as we head into the new year. Take as much care as you can, hold those you love close, and don’t worry about anything that doesn’t really matter.

The games have been on hold, but I’m part of a group of amazing game developers who are coming together to create a fun new stream: working name “Girls Drinking Wine and Playing Games.” More to come!! For now, we’re in the very early planning stages. There aren’t any new free games, but feel free to visit my games link to download one of the older games.

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Going forward, my games and my company will continue to amplify the voices of people who may not have felt welcome at every gaming table. I hope you’ll join me in making gaming stronger, better, more just, and more accessible. Best wishes for 2021!

Big Girl Games

Nikita, thank you very much for inviting me! I really appreciate that you took the initiative and keep making the effort to set up and run the Indie Tabletop Games Newsletter. And I know I’m not alone in feeling grateful 🙂 Hopefully I can contribute to keeping it relevant and exiting also in the future.

About us – My name is Vegard, and I’m the founder of Simplicatus Games. We’re based in Norway and Poland, where we design, develop, publish and distribute tabletop games. Our passion is to create and promote games that inspire and facilitate learning, especially about natural sciences, mathematics and analytic thinking.

Retailer info: Clustered ++ – We currently have several dozens of titles in stock, mostly in English but also in several other languages. Our main title is Clustered 2nd ed. which is printed in EN, DE, ES, FR, PL editions, and we’d love to get in touch with retailers across Europe. See the link for more info.

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Recent Kickstarter: Colour MY Kritters – We just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign for our new family card game Colour MY Kritters, nicknamed “My first deck builder”. It’s an introduction of this popular mechanic to kids age 5-6 and up, and with advanced rules it can also work as a filler game. Please visit the link and subscribe for more info about late pledging!

About me – If you read this far, you might also want to read this: I started designing board games in primary school, and my favourite design was a mining game where you would discover gems and then trade with them. Little did I know then about game mechanics and modular boards, so I modelled my design on a popular game in Norway (BGG # 5130). Later I tried designing my own improved version of Monopoly where you would get stocks instead of properties, and they would change value throughout the game, and you could trade with them. As a student I loved playing Risk and Junta, and my first big investment was Samurai Swords. Then I started a club where we played a lot of board games, and eventually I played Settlers (as we called it back then) at a New Year’s party in Germany exactly 21 years ago. After founding Simplicatus, we developed, published and sold several board and card games for mathematics education as part of our offer of hands-on learning materials to Norwegian schools. Eventually, I focused solely on tabletop games…

Thank you for reading! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for more info about our games and how to get a copy 😉

Simplicatus Games website

Our latest Kickstarter, the mini one we ran on a whim during the summer is now completely fulfilled (mostly on time or early) and we’re planning our next steps. We have stand-alone expansion in the works, but thanks to COVID-19, we’re still stuck 100 miles apart unable to playtest it. So we’re considering another mini-Kickstarter, like the one we ran in July. We’ve got a number of cool FlickFleet bits and pieces that we’ve not yet shared and had several fan-submitted ideas for new ships, add-ons and fun mini-expansions, so we’re running a competition – the prize being a designer credit, free copy of your idea and a royalty if your idea is included in the Kickstarter. You can read all about it on my blog.

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