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.
Xeno Wars is a stand-alone expansion for FlickFleet that can be played on its own as a two player game, or can be combined with FlickFleet for games with up to 4 players. It introduces two new alien species to the FlickFleet universe, with asymmetric powers and boarding rules. It will be live on Gamefound from 4th to the 18th July and, because we make them in Paul’s garage, will not be in retail distribution afterwards. Follow the campaign on Gamefound using the link below and see what all the fuss is about.
The first was to movement. Each turn, you can now move up to 4 spaces in any single direction, and turn if you run into terrain. Previously, there was an Action Grid that determined the choices you had for both direction and distance. It worked, but many play testers felt it was a little frustrating to not have more control. The trouble is that giving them complete control went too far the other way; they could completely avoid many enemies and pick up all the loot they wanted. It became boring.
That’s where the second change came in: a movement goal track. Previously, there was no limit to the number of turns you can take in an area, so the only thing that stopped you from avoiding the monsters while grabbing the loot was that you didn’t have complete control over movement.
I had tried giving a strict limit on turns taken, which forced players to make efficient choices and sometimes battle monsters, but I removed it because it was too cumbersome to track and having a hard-set limit just didn’t seem to fit.
Now, there’s a movement goal track. You can stay as long as you want in each map, but your performance is measured by 3 goal tracks, one of which measures how long you stayed in the map. So there’s still pressure to keep movement efficient, but more freedom to be inefficient if that’s what you want.
That still leaves the problem of cumbersome tracking, however. To overcome that, the movement goal doesn’t require you to track each turn. Instead, when you exit a map, you simply count the number of spaces you ended movement on. If you end more than one turn on the same space, it’s still only counted once. There’s no additional tracking that needs to be done, since you’re marking spaces as you move anyway, and counting spaces is much easier than counting individual turns taken.
So now, movement is even more open-world, but if you want to hit the movement goals, you’ll have to carefully plan out how you move, and often give something up. Or you can miss the movement goal and grab all the loot. It’s your choice!
In other words, players now have more control over movement, but still have pressure to not just “get all the things”, and the overhead needed to maintain that pressure is not nearly as cumbersome as tracking every turn.
I don’t think either of these changes would have been good for the game on their own, but together they seem to fall right in the sweet spot. I’d say that’s a win in my book!
The freight shipping for The Light in the Mist is now at a close as well, and we expect copies to begin delivering in Australia and New Zealand by the end of June. UK copies should start fulfillment shortly after, followed by Europe, the US, and Canada, and we’re absolutely stoked to get this project into the hands of backers ON TIME!
Meanwhile, we’re starting to design our next narrative puzzle adventure for 2023. Stay tuned for more info as we start to make progress on this very exciting project.
In Zuuli news, the smile has barely left my face since coming back from what was such an amazing UKGE. Here’s a quick overview of the full weekend and if you’re interested in finding out more I will hopefully have a more detailed version up on the Unfringed blog soon.
Highlights – Such a cool feeling entering the Hall on the Thursday and seeing all of the yellow vested people buzzing about and a delightful chorus of stands being constructed.
– Really lovely to finally meet in person some names and people I only knew through social media and I even got a chance to swing by some other Indie UK publisher stands to see their games and them in person for the first time. I can’t quite get over how helpful, talented and welcoming the community is and I feel privileged to be part of it.
– Extremely heart-warming hearing people as they played at our demo table saying how much they’re enjoying it. It’s hard to describe how it feels to hear people say such things about something you’ve created from scratch but it hits really deep and fills you with such warmth.
– Had a lot of fun socialising with other UK publishers/designers with highlights including hall 3 quieting meows, large teddy bears and giant jenga.
– Received such a positive response from some Board Game Facebook groups about Zuuli and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing what the community comes up with for the ‘Design your own’ Zuuli cards. Highlights have to be the Chameleon, flamingos and kingfisher!
Genuinely can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Done It: Our Castleshire crowdfunding campaign finished a couple of weeks ago. It did amazingly well. We are on cloud nine: 298 backers (182 in our previous campaign) of which 11 % backed on Kickstarter for the first time. Nine are retailers. Our different take on doing stretch goals worked: we have had an impressively engaged crowd help spread the word. They unlocked more content than anticipated. Consequently, the game will not even come with an insert tray anymore as the game box will be filled to the brim despite its generous size already.
Highlight: The one thing that struck us the most was a comment from Chris (Liege of Games): “This is the sort of stuff I think our hobby needs more of.” His full review is on our closed campaign page (link below)
Legends: Our Legendary Edition (photo) caught most of the attraction. Designed as the ultimate fan edition, it turned into a popular selection. We got twelve times more pledges than anticipated. The game box alone consists of over one hundred pieces, and the edition includes two extra expansions.
Reviews: While the campaign is over, our premanufacturing copies are still with reviewers. A new review from the UK is about to be published (Board Games Bren), and a review from Germany is being recorded right now (Brettspielsuchties). A copy landed with Better Half Reviews (US). We will continue with getting more reviews in before those Castleshire copies go to backers.
In celebration, we thought we’d recap what we’ve shared over these 24 issues:
July 2020 – we introduced PlayGames2Learn.com in the first issue and listed the dozen+ educational games and activities we had already shared on our website as a by-product of our homeschooling approach to #MakeLearningFun – including “The Bone Game”, which was designed by our daughter to specifically “help other kids learn the bones of the skeleton in a fun way”.
August 2020 – we talked about our largest board game yet – a pirate-themed cat-and-mouse game of real pirate lore for 3-5 players. This was “Pirate Pursuit – The Spanish Treasure Fleet”, with illustrations by @JonMerchant21!
September 2020 – we gave more details about #PiratePursuitTBG. The pirate hunters use their knowledge of pirate lore to reveal the pirate’s location and drive them away from the treasure fleet – or better yet, capture that blasted bilge rat of a thieving scallywag!
October 2020 – #PiratePursuitTBG released later this month and in the newsletter we advised of our special ‘employee pricing’ discount to every subscriber on our mailing list.
November 2020 – following #BoardGamersLift on Twitter, we found out some game designers also write books. That’s something we do too! So we shared about our ‘playful’ comedy adventure, “The King and Queen’s Banquet – A Play in Three Acts”, that was created from a puppet theatre conceived by our daughter.
December 2020 – we recounted our achievements in the past 12 months, including the debut of Captain Flim Flam and his mini pirate crew for #TalkLikeAPirateDay. And we release “Miser vs Miser”, a game inspired by the characters from the 1974 stop-motion animated special, “The Year without a Santa Claus”.
February 2021 – we talked about playing games over the holidays, and how as often as not we just make up games from our brains – a riffing on an existing game or inventing something new using available game components or other household items.
March 2021 – shared an excerpt from one of our blog articles discussing nugget-based learning and how, in this technologically-enabled education climate, we’re all learning more and more via interest-driven, bite-sized pieces, or nuggets, of information, including through game design.
April 2021 – six months after releasing #PiratePursuitTBG, we introduced our historical novel, “The Day the Pirates Went Mad”, and the bug hunt contest to search out any typographical issues in the e-book before the subsequent release of the paperback.
May 2021 – with the official book launch of #TDTPiratesWentMad, a historical novel for middle-grade readers and up, we had now completed four big projects! “The Bone Game”, “The King and Queen’s Banquet”, “Pirate Pursuit – The Spanish Treasure Fleet”, and “The Day the Pirates Went Mad”.
June 2021 – we shared how the origins of our chess-teaching game, “Chess Attack”, are rooted in my youth and were influenced by D&D. Now “Chess Attack”…
Pride Month – There’s a new version of The Board Game Survival Kit: the contents are still the same, but now each colour version has the option of a pride flag/rainbow label. I’ve wanted to do this for a while and thanks to the success of UKGE – during pride month itself – it made sense to do it now. Thank you so much to everyone who has shown support and made this possible!
Malum Hortus – Malum Hortus was very well received at UKGE! Everyone I talked to about it seemed interested and enthusiastic about the concept.
In all the excitement I forgot to tell people there is already a preview page up for it that they can follow, hopefully more people will now (the link is below 😉).
The board art for Malum Hortus is coming along nicely, I’ve chosen an ancient hand drawn map style for it which I think works well. Originally, I wanted to utilise the same intricate art style I’ve used for the flowers but it wouldn’t be possible to make the garden look as large as it’s supposed to be with that level of detail. Given that the game itself is played over many (in game) days the garden needs to look vast! With that in mind the chosen map style makes sense. I’ve quite enjoyed drawing mini ‘here be monsters’ style evil flowers on the map.
Custom Orders – I’ve started to receive a lot more custom and direct orders from gamers, which I absolutely love. Making sure a customer gets 100% what they want makes me happy. Direct sales also show that people have trust in me as the creator to deliver and it means I can avoid some of the larger fees from platforms like Etsy. So, if you know and trust me, please contact me directly for orders, it all helps Atikin Games to grow.
The Indie Tabletop Newsletter – This newsletter is two years old today!!! Over the last two years there has been news on here from over 50 different indie tabletop game designers and it has been my pleasure to curate this newsletter and absolute privilege to be the first to read the news each month. I look forward to many more happy years of working together to share our content with as many gamers as possible! On that note, please subscribe to the newsletter using the email subscription forms at the top or bottom of this page.
I was once locked up in a cell for 36 hrs for possession of scissors. I then had to face a legal battle for over a year to avoid criminal charges.
My name was in Sega’s first release on a Nintendo console (Chu Chu Rocket on GBA). I had designed a few levels on the Dreamcast version, and Sega chose one of my levels to be in that release! I got a chance to make videogames, thanks to the BBC, TI83 graphics calculator, and (later on) Flash. But at university, I realised that programming depresses me.
I used to be part of 3 musical groups (and also do solo performances). I’m best at the piano but I played the trumpet as part of the Olympic games.
My favourite game is Go. The structure encourages you to focus on the journey of learning. Extra stones make your pool of playing partners much larger. There are amazing ramifications within simple rules. And the overall flow of the game just delights and satisfies me.
My first self-published game went on to become my biggest hit so far (‘Yogi’).
I wear a lot of red. As I type this I am wearing literally nothing that isn’t red. And I’m wearing quite a few clothes.
I try to eat something red every day.
Although I’m going on the potato diet next week.
My favourite fruit is the mangosteen. But only when eaten in Thailand (or very nearby).
One day, I will finish making the game with the longest title ever. The title will give you the pitch, the instructions, and also the history of how the game was made. It starts, “A game, wherein you blether[…]”
In 2019, I decided that I needed a ‘whimsy budget’. I’ve made enough money that I don’t have to justify every expense in terms of direct sales. After all, sparking joy (including my own) is why I want to make boardgames.
My 2019 whimsy budget involved paying for a wall at my UKGE stand, to display a ‘cat gallery’. There were hundreds of pictures of cats at the start of the show, and over 2,000 by the end! The rules were: one picture per person per day, pictures had to be at least 60% cat, and only black/red pens were allowed.
I self-published 6 totally-different things in the past year.
I’d rate marmite 6/10. I think that the claims of it being divisive are actually untrue.
One of these statements isn’t totally true. If you are the first to identify the lie and message me, I will send you one of my games. (One guess per person please.) You can message me on twitter (StuffByBez) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). IG/FB also works but I find those harder to check.
We launched the game on Kickstarter back in 2021, going on to successfully fund and go into production. It’s been an amazing, busy and rewarding year since then, and we’ve been able to enjoy getting to know so many amazing other folks in the industry. We also recently exhibited at the UK Games Expo earlier in June, getting the chance to meet many new and existing players and play some incredible games.
So what’s happening now? Well, we’re busy going through the fulfilment phase of our project – shipping Cosmic Voyage to backers in all 4 corners of the globe. We’ve also had a lot of time to reflect on the journey we’ve had since the very beginnings of the project, and we’ll be talking about some of the insights we gained and knowledge we’ve acquired that will form the cornerstones of future projects from us.
We have a number of other projects that are quietly simmering in the pot behind the scenes, and we can’t wait to talk about those in the coming months. For now we want to thank everybody we’ve already had a chance to meet, talk to, or just pass a friendly wave on Twitter. It’s an amazing community and we’re so proud to be a part of it.
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