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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My name is Sam of Samphire Games. I have also just launched Poll & Write 2024 on Kickstarter! It’s a print-and-play game about the UK general election (happening on Thursday 4th July!) where you play as one of up to seven parties competing for seats. A game of 2-3 players can be done in under an hour. Each party has their own win conditions meaning more than one player can win!

I recently had this lovely feedback from a remote play tester: “This is a great game… I liked the story of our game, a tight battle with Labour initially ahead with Tories fighting back once the economy rose up… Will probably store this with my copy of Prime Minister as a nice cool-down game afterwards.”

The best thing is that if you back right now you can play it on election night! (Unless of course you’re reading this after election night, in which case you’ll have to wait until the next election night to unlock that particular achievement.)

Poll & Write 2024 Kickstarter

It all started with a coprolite. The archaeology team began their dig expecting to find fossilized faeces, but what they found was so much more! Welcome to Triassic: Search for the Gojirasaur! Players are searching for Eggs, DNA, and so much more in this game of fast play and combos galore.

In Roll and Write Revolution’s newest collaboration, we are joined by Todd and Ashlyn Cuzzort, who helped design the game both mechanically and artistically. Bringing the past to life is no easy feat, but players will find plenty to like here.

Rolling the dice each turn represents the research actions that the players will take. Unfortunately, budget cuts take away the highest value dice each turn, sorry, but the university really needs that budget for something else. But your paleontological skills will prevail because you can use two of the remaining dice to do two actions, each die is assigned to one area of the sheet, or both dice can be assigned to the same section.

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The great thing about searching for fossils is that sometimes you can hit a vein and away you go, finding dozens in one hunt. In Triassic, players will feel that same momentum as they uncover actions from one die that leads to further actions which do not need dice funding, thank you very much university staff.

As the dice help players dig, they will find plenty of challenges when the highest values of dice are removed each turn lessening their options each turn. Playing 1-100 players with players being involved with each roll of the dice will highlight the latest developments in game design with an eye to the future. Players can think of themselves as leading the charge toward developing the theme parks where the mighty thunder lizards will roam again. But first they have to get ready with their research, cloning, and organic materials.

Digging into this roll and write game where dice are just the beginning. Finding the right moments to shift focus around the sheet will maximize combos leading to even bigger scores. Focusing on one area alone will not get it done in this game that plays quick and keeps the players engaged on every turn.

Kickstarter link

It’s the 4th anniversary of The Indie Tabletop Newsletter!!! 🥳 Thank you so much to everyone who has shared their news here over the years, and of course a big thank you to those of you reading regularly, it’s important to keep up to date with what your favourite indie designers have to say 😉 so don’t forget to subscribe at the top of this page!

In Atikin Games news I have been working on improving my website, specifically the shop section. If there’s one this UKGE successes have taught me is that the things I sell are loved, so I ought to push through the imposter syndrome and tell people more, so I would like to start doing more in the way of advertising my site online, but first, the improvements! Watch this space!

I’ve started doing some more creative writing around the Malus Hortus universe. I’m really enjoying it and it could, potentially, one day, maybe, mean that I bring out an RPG / choose your own adventure style book, wouldn’t that be exciting? I did also quickly have a look at what the flowers would look like in print and I really love the black and white orchid.

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Obviously Malus Hortus needs to be a published game first, and to that end I’m trying to make time between the upcoming house move and renovations to keep moving forward with the game, it’s staying set up on the table for now whilst I get more play testing and balancing of the new additions, seeing it progressing so much and improving beyond what it would have been had I launched the campaign last year really has made it all worthwhile, a huge silver lining to having been unwell.

Thank you to everyone who has read this far, don’t forget to subscribe 😉 so we can keep sharing our news for another 4 years to come!

Malus Hortus Kickstarter

We’ve been super busy at Huff No More preparing for our first crowdfunding campaign for Sakana Stack which we are pleased to announce will launch on 1st October 2024!

This has included our first visit to UK Games Expo and our first time exhibiting. It was an incredible experience, once we’d got over the imposter syndrome! By the end of the weekend we had hosted lots of demos of Sakana Stack and had loads of really great conversations with the gaming community. We met a number of content creators and reviewers so there will be a lot more activity in the next few months as we build up to our campaign launch.

We are also really excited to announce we shall be exhibiting at Airecon North West in Manchester this August. We had a great time at Airecon in March so the chance to showcase Sakana Stack and play a bunch of other games with people is really exciting!

You can keep up to date as we prepare to launch the Sakana Stack crowdfunding campaign on 1st October 2024 on our Instagram or Facebook page, the Kickstarter pre-launch page or by signing up to the mailing list on our website.

Huff No More website

June is always a heavy convention month for us here. UKGE is at the start of the month of course, where we were lucky enough to support Mike Hutchinson in picking up both the people’s choice and judge’s choice awards for best miniatures game of the year. That’s both years that we’ve been running one of Mike’s games at the con that it’s picked up both awards now, which I’m pretty sure he only does to put pressure on me since next year I’ll have my own minis game out for UKGE.

The weekend after UKGE I was at Broadsides, a great little minis convention that’s quite local to me, so it’s nice to essentially chill out a bit while still interacting with the public. They were good enough to run a mini tournament for us of Hobgoblin, so that was really cool. Then the weekend after that I was at the Medway Gaming Festival at Historic Chatham Dockyard. The festival was formerly known as Rapture and is primarily a digital gaming festival, but they’ve set aside a tabletop zone which I’m a regular at.

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It’s a great chance to meet a different crowd of gamers and we always do quite well there, plus it’s a really interesting location.

The next con I’ve got definitely booked in is going to be Dragonmeet in December, which is held in London so often costs more for parking than anything else. As such Mike and I are trying to figure out if we can go guerilla and public transport the whole thing. Still, I usually find and pop up at something between then and now, so if I do, I’ll see you all on the road!

Our website

Experimenting with ways to facilitate player agency in a GMless system: There are a few key concepts that align even the most different of TTRPG systems and approaches to roleplaying games…One of these is the game master (GM), a player who determines the state and responses of the world as the players act within it. More than simply controlling the backdrop, the GM is a combined director, facilitator, and referee; a task that requires quite a bit of improvisation and adaptation on the fly to better allow players to engage with the world how they want to, rather than being limited by specific options! So… What encouraged us to make Why We Fight GMless?

This central role of the roleplaying group is perhaps not as essential as initially thought. Designers have experimented with a variety of GMless systems, and single-player TTRPG’s are undeniably on the rise. Removing this core component requires a system robust enough to enforce the world and how you interact with it, yet flexible enough that players can self-govern… All while maintaining a simplicity that allows players to understand their own options, and feel confident in choosing how to proceed. And the key to it all is empowerment.

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As we began experimenting with Why We Fight, a GMless, solo+ game about building a solarpunk future in the ashes of a post-civil war society, we knew that empowerment would be a critical component to the experience we were crafting. Unlike most dystopias, we wanted players to feel that their actions could build not only a different world, but a better one, directly shaped by their decisions.

At first, we opted for simplicity as a means to ease players into the game, constructing pre-built ‘Situations’ players could face. Yet as we tested them, we found the limitations looming: Repeating these scenarios stripped players of agency, a few key options that contained players choices rather than working as a launch pad. Over the last few months we’ve worked on a new D66 table system through which players build their own Situations, rolling for a simple prompt and then answering a number of questions to create their own, unique spin on it. The results have been mind blowing!

The complicated job of the GM is far simpler when players cooperate together to fulfil the role, bringing their own ideas and decisions to the table. With just the right amount of prompt and guidance, players turn the imagination they use to plan their actions to build Situations instead, and as each new element is added, more ideas are built on top. Upon completing the development of their Situation, players then work together to solve it… But their creativity has already been activated, and the methods of solving their own challenges become all the more interesting! Their vision of the world they’re interacting with is one they helped create, one they’re already much more invested in.

We can’t wait to see the possibilities this new system creates for Why We Fight!

Access our PDF here!

Firstly, a huge happy 4 year anniversary to The Indie Tabletop Newsletter! Thank you so much Nikita for providing a space for us Indie Publishers to share our creations with the world and for all of the effort that goes into creating the newsletter every month. Oh, and also for sending me reminders when I inevitably forgot the deadline!

June is always one of my favourite months for Unfringed. This year even more so because not only was it UKGE, the UK’s largest board gaming event, but it was the launch event for my second game Molehill Meadows. And what an amazing event it was. Firstly, thank you so much to everyone that came by to say hi at our stand, play a demo of Zuuli or Molehills or even pick up a copy of one of my games to take home with them. It was a pleasure to meet you all and I always leave on the Sunday with such a huge smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart. Already looking forward to doing it all again next year.

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I was surprisingly anxious about releasing my second game because you don’t want to let people down who enjoyed your first game and have built up some expectations. Fortunately though, so far people have thoroughly enjoyed journeying with Mika through flower filled meadows and powering up on juicy worms. A surprising number have also said they enjoy it more than Zuuli so I couldn’t be happier. I love seeing your score sheet so please do share with us on @UnfringedThings on social media.

July is mostly a recovery month from UKGE but the design bug has hit again so I’ve also been scribbling away on the next game. Nothing to share yet but stay tuned for news in the future!

Grab Molehill Meadows here!

Relics: A Game Of Angels is a unique roleplaying game of a war in heaven brought to earth. The gates to the divine realm have been closed perhaps forever. Players take the role of fallen angels, trapped in a world where they do not belong, facing enemies they barely understand for humans who never believed in them. Released in 2020, we continue to build support for this line. This year we’re continuing the Chains of Ezekiel scenario series with Act 3 of the story: Vanity of Vanities

Somebody has built a device that lets any old mortal trap a demon. The angels get word that such a device will appear at a tech convention. All they have to do is show up and find it. Sounds easy. But the devil is in the details…

You can grab Vanity of Vanities and the previous instalments of the campaign at our itch store.

Grab it here

Exciting announcement in the PostCurious world: we have a brand-new project in the works! The idea has been in the percolator for a while, but now we’re putting it on the front burner. Even though we’ve only been at it a few weeks, we’re already deep into the puzzlecrafting and worldbuilding process. This project has a light-hearted theme, while still aiming for the emotional and narrative depth characteristic of other PostCurious games.

Want to find out more about this mystery project before anyone else? Sign up for our Patreon! We’ll be posting design diaries for this project in the coming months, and our Discord community is already helping shape some creative aspects of the project. And our latest Patreon design diary is already up! This one breaks down the entire design process for our social media Valentine’s Day puzzle, step-by-step. Become a patron today if you want a peek behind the puzzlecrafting curtain!

If you want mini puzzles, glimpses behind-the-scenes, game recommendations, and more, you can also follow us on social media! Check out @postcurious on Facebook and Instagram.

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And last but not least, we’re thrilled to announce that PostCurious won TWO Origins Awards this year. Threads of Fate earned Best Puzzle Game and Best 3D Art in a Game. Thank you to the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design and Origins Game Fair. Threads of Fate is in stock on our website at getpostcurious.com if you want to experience it for yourself!

Support us on Patreon

After a super successful first Kickstarter campaign, I’m putting the finishing touches on the stretch goal material for Roll A Coaster Park. Together almost 200 backers unlocked three stretch goals, adding extra map layouts for every map and extra scenarios that explore different objectives and shift the incentives in play.

The challenging one so far has been adapting the game to incorporate stocks and shares for the £18xx stretch goal! With each new version I’m getting closer to something that nails that train game feeling which is very promising. I’m off to a playtest weekend soon, and hoping that a bit of quick prototyping, and testing a few different versions will be enough to make this scenario sing.

Since the last newsletter I now have the new game logo, which shows off the retro styling I was hoping to achieve, and now Rob will have a chance to work on the player sheet graphics. Once the scenarios are polished and the map graphics are done it will be released to the world: exciting times!

Microdot Games Instagram

Hello there! Have you snuck away from the party as well? I do love ’em but sometimes I just need to get some peace and quiet…Never mind that now, would you care for a stroll?

Ahh, isn’t the garden lovely this time of year?! All those bees and flowers, everything is so green. Did I show you the pond? No? Oh it’s MARVELOUS! It’s the main inspiration for Perilous Pond. Come here, it’s just beyond those willow trees.

Just look at it! Isn’t it splendid, have you ever seen so many water lilies? And look at all those frogs. Hah, those small things must be busy with all the flies that gather here. We should get back here later tonight when the fireflies dance on the water!

I think I need a sit down, let’s rest here. It’s been an intensive spring with lots of work but most of it seems to be done now. We just sent the final document for pre-press checks, can you believe that? Luckily we haven’t been alone in this, we’ve had very supportive backers making all the work feel worth it.

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Hmm, left? Well there are a couple of things still to do with the mini-expansions but on the whole it looks like we’ll get some time to enjoy the summer sun and maybe even an ice cream or two!

So we’re ready with components, cards and game box…now we just have to pre-press check the rules and after that I guess it’s just to wait for everything to arrive in the warehouse to be assembled.

Ok, I’m ready to walk back now. Let’s take the path over there and see if we can’t find the others…

Frozen Maze Games Instagram

This year is a slow burn for game designing. Marriage planning comes first! Yet I’m finding some time for pushing a promising prototype into its next phase. My friend Lena Hoinkis offered to illustrate the game as part of her aspiring artist career. We are currently drafting thumbnails for the chapters before going into details later. In general, I think the iterative approach is almost always the best. Once we got the first chapters done, I’m going to intensify playtesting, checking both for balance and atmosphere. Illustrations are hard to come by when you are an indie designer, as the comparably high costs are tough to shoulder with low production volumes and I don’t want to use AI art. So this is an exciting collaboration for me which I’m very much enjoying. I’ll post more images on Instagram when we get there 🙂

Back to Bailong (cover draft)

Board games let us enjoy victories. But each victory needs to be a satisfying one. That’s why in QUESTABELL (designed by Kirsten for my ELL deck and developed together) we encourage players to skip ahead. We could have advised people start at different points, but there is real value in playing the first quest, just to make sure you’re comfortable with the basic rules. After you have context to make your decision, you could skip to the first ‘boss quest’ if you feel confident.

If the difficulty just keeps going up inexorably, it can get tiring. That’s why we intentionally try to ‘spike’ the difficulty every 5 levels. These are definitely quests for greater triumphs – harder fought over.

QUESTABELL is a co-operative word game with 50 quests to work through. We’re currently doing a final playtest and finishing some writing/doodling hopefully in time to share v1.0 of the rules and quest booklet on 1st August. I might even offer a low-quality ELL deck for free at the same time.

I’m also working to get my shop back up and running by the end of the month.

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Everyone has different ideas of what is an appropriate difficulty. Folk have different skill levels. Different people have different feelings about losing – some enjoy the fiero that comes after repeated failure; some would rather stroll through, enjoying the game without too many obstacles and setbacks.

That’s why many games have different difficulty levels. That’s why we offer suggestions for how to skip ahead.

However you play, we hope you enjoy QUESTABELL. We have found that word game lovers enjoy the core structure, whilst others enjoy the fact that you have to focus on other stuff like the suits (‘schools of magic’) or the frequencies listed on the bottom of the cards. It’s not ‘just’ a word game.

Every year on 1st August, I release a new game and this will be the game for 2024.

It’s the most ambitious game for the ELL deck and I’m already really proud of what Kirsten and I made.

I’ll share a link next month. ❤️

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