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.
There’s real variety within the six games with various mechanics, player counts (1-8 players) and complexities. So you can select the right game for the person you’re sending it to. Each game has been inspired (to a greater or lesser extent) by classic board games, with the aim of hooking in new players to the hobby, but uses modern mechanics. Here’s more about the six games:
– Splinter is a paper-cutting, resource management party game for 3-8 players
– Enemy Lines is a head-to-head strategy game for 2 players
– Guess How is a cooperative legacy game for 1-4 players
– In the Drawing Room with the Hatchet is a cut-throat programming game for 3-6 players
– Snakes, Ladders and a Pogo Stick is a worker placement race game for 3-5 players
– Another Life is an economic action selection game for 2-4 players
I’ll be demoing the Greetings Card Games at AireCon (Stand E12). If you’re attending, please drop in, say hello and play a game! You can also pick up a discount voucher at the stand to get money off in my online shop.
Library Labyrinth is live on Kickstarter! After almost two years in development, Dissent Games are bringing this family game to your table. A curse is rippling through the library, releasing literary terrors from the books. Dracula is behind you, a kraken round the corner, and you can hear the Big Bad Wolf growling… Your task is to build a team of inspirational fictional and historical women to capture these monstrous things and return them to the shelves. Can Athena and Marie Curie defeat a basilisk? Can Alice in Wonderland and Mary Seacole deal with a triffid?
You’ll be moving around a grid of 25 octagonal tiles, which can flip and rotate. Win the game by safely shelving six captured terrors. Lose by running out of time, or by letting the library become overwhelmed!
Library Labyrinth is a game for one to five players, and takes around 45 minutes to play. As well as the game, the team (Jess, Mill, Ella, and Sam) will be organising a tour of workshops for schools, libraries, and boardgame cafes. It’s on Kickstarter 1-31 March.
I am proud to announce that I finally have a company logo for Yub Nub Games! I was focused on investing in the Top Tale brand up until this point, but with more games on the horizon, I need to not neglect my company brand. For this, I enlisted the talent of the same gal that did all the artwork for Top Tale.
The new company logo has three main elements: the name of the company and abbreviation, a nod to my patriotism, and a homage to my late brother Scott Seiler. “Yub Nub” is Ewok for freedom, and so there’s Star Wars culture and some patriotism in that. The American flag is the more obvious nod to patriotism. As far as my brother’s face as an Ewok, he had actually posted a picture of an Ewok with his face on it years ago (see associated image), so we used that and turned it into a caricature.
So now you know a bit more of the backstory behind the company name. There are several hidden meanings, and only myself and a few others would even recognize that it’s my brother’s face.
That said, I wanted to memorialize my brother somehow, and making him part of my company logo would make him very proud. Scott was, as I am, a huge Star Wars fan, and us Seiler boys always had an affinity towards the Ewoks.
Some of you might be thinking, “how can you use Disney’s Ewok likeness in your brand?” Well, the Ewok language is not something that you can claim ownership of, so “Yub Nub” if fair game. I also have a registered trademark in the US for “Yub Nub Games”. The logo doesn’t have an Ewok in it, just a dude in some Ewok headgear. Either way, the Ewok patents have all expired and become public domain.
Reviews: The Castleshire review copies have found their way to the US, to Canada, to Europe, and one review copy circulates in New Zealand. We’ve got initial feedback from an unboxing and review from The Nerd Shelves (Judie and Michael) and man, that blew us away. Designer Till is on cloud nine and I (Sven, developer) was happy spectating the live playthrough; link here if you missed it: lnkd.in/eW-d8GdV
Previews: With Castleshire in preparation for a crowdfunding campaign, we want honest and unfiltered reviews. We want to see what people think and let them show how our game feels. Castleshire carries a bluffing element in its core plus a variety of light game mechanism on top of it. Players can build light to complex strategies depending on how well they believe they can bluff. That’s something unique to bluffing games and we thought previews cannot transport people emotions, so reviews are our way to go, not paid previews.
Manufacturing: We got our review copies in December, inspected them well and sent them off to reviewers. Including their incoming feedback, we decided to fix a list of production quality issues.
The factory changed some materials for an unknown reason, sized meeples incorrectly, changed shapes and most importantly, one of our components has a finish that doesn’t work and makes it unsuitable for use. March and April will be all about fixing these flaws.
Kickstarter: Our Kickstarter preview page went live; see link. However, we are pondering about moving our campaign to Gamefound given Kickstarter’s declaration to invest in building a crypto platform for crowding sites. The way Kickstarter treats community feedback deeply worries us and reluctance grows to use their platform for any future project, including Castleshire. We postponed our campaign by at least 9 weeks to see how the situation develops.
Languages: Castleshire will be printed in English only. We started the translation to German and lined up a translation to Spanish. Translation will come as digital language packs including the rulebook and two translations for the cards with text. They can either be printed as stickers that go onto the cards, or as full cards printed on paper that goes into the sleeved card.
Regicide: You may have heard of the New Zealand game Regicide. We’ve helped our buddies and translated their latest rules to German.
After getting some copies sent out to me to do some quality checking myself I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out. The cards with the ‘sure slip’ finish feel very nice to hold and shuffling is particularly satisfying. Switching to a hard box from a tuckbox has also helped a lot in giving Zuuli that quality and professional look and feel. I’ve had a few people report that their tuckbox from the prototype is already starting to show a bit of wear and tear so the harder two box should help mitigate this a lot.
For the next couple of weeks I’ll be wrangling the last of the Kickstarter and retail orders and then taking a bit of a break in March.
Once I’m back I’ll be looking at whether I can get Zuuli to some of the upcoming expos for all of you that missed the Kickstarter. Follow on socials or sign up to our website newsletter to keep up to date with our plans.
But how about games and books? Can these activities give us some of our needed STEM / STEAM coverage? Or, better yet, springboard us into related activities and inspire some inquiries?
The short answer is, “Yes, of course!” We humans learn very well through games and stories. Both can introduce and reinforce concepts, provide opportunities for learning-related discussions, and generally just make learning fun and therefore more memorable.
These days, games and game-like activities with baked in STEM / STEAM concepts are just a web search away. Even our own print-and-play games are mainly math and science-centric. And as with us, playing games and listening to stories can lead naturally to your own game design and storytelling adventures.
This is where STEM / STEAM can really come to the fore. Developing our own educational games required a lot of research and experimentation. Our investigations and skill development led us down all sorts of rabbit holes of learning. This is true for our stories too, though the STEM is typically presented in a “softer” manner than with the games.
We can consider our Pirate Pursuit games about real pirate lore as an example. The pirate lore cards contain many facts from the time of the first treasure fleets to the end of the Golden Age of Piracy. Being able to answer the questions on these cards lets the players succeed at the games. This is a strong incentive to learn the knowledge included in the game.
On the other hand, consider reading a historical novel like …
*** Read the rest on our website and get a bonus picture with a pair of inspirational cartoon cats AND a link to a recipe for a tasty apple dessert! ***
Last month we debuted one of our latest games in development: Pocket Book Adventures. We recently came to the point where the game was ready for some outside testing, so we opened it up to blind play testing on Twitter. The response was incredible! Not only did we get far more volunteers than even our more optimistic expectations, but so far, those that have given their feedback have really enjoyed the game!
A common theme in their responses has been the uniqueness of the game’s light, dexterity-based mechanic. I’ve never seen it anywhere else before, so I don’t know if there’s already an accepted name, but I’ve simply called it “aiming”.
Aiming is used to determine pretty much everything that is random/variable within the game. All you need for it is a starting point and a target, like the monster and its target seen in the image. Just place the tip of your pencil on the starting point and – without looking at the page – lift your pencil and attempt to hit the target. Where you land determines the actions you can take or the success of the action you chose.
Not only is aiming simple, but it also allows for an entire game to be played with nothing but the game book and a pencil – no need for dice or any other randomness generator! On top of that, it also gives a good balance between skill and randomness, where players have some agency in the outcome, but (unless they’re expert aimers) they can’t be certain they’ll get exactly what they want.
Needless to say, I’m very happy with how aiming has developed!
From here on out, I’d like to reveal a new detail about Pocket Book Adventures each month until our tentative launch date later this year!
I’m a little low on news this month as I’ve spent the last two weeks in a sling and splint due to a broken elbow and wrist. What I do have in abundance though is plans! So, let’s delve in to those shall we?
Atikin Games Website – I used to be a software developer and I’ve had the itch to program for months now; but what to code? I could make a little app for fun, but with no real purpose for it, it would feel like a waste of time. I could make one of my games into an app – but I’m not ready to turn in to full time tech support (maybe one day).
The solution I’ve arrived at is upgrading and extending the Atikin Games website. I’ve been using a standard WordPress theme and there have been so many issues I’ve wanted to address that WordPress just doesn’t allow me to adjust. I’ll be migrating my site to another host where I can write more of my own scripts to address those limitations as well as growing the functionality of the site.
Atikin Games Store – Speaking of growing the functionality of the site: there’s going to be an Atikin Games store on the site! No more redirections to Etsy or GameFound (where I will still have store fronts). Having my own store means I can benefit from lower fees and more flexibility. I’ll be giving myself 2 months to get these changes in place to launch a completely revamped e-commerce website and blog.
Atikin Games Blog – Did she say blog? You’d better believe that she said blog. I miss writing, I really enjoy the creative writing I do for my games but that’s few and far between. I’d like to start blogging, I won’t be keeping to any particular schedule, I’d just like to write about the things I enjoy.
I do plan to slip out of the realm of board games from time to time. Don’t panic! It will still mostly – let’s say 80% – be board games, but there’s so much else I’m interested in: crafts, food, gardening, health and fitness. I’m sure if now and then a new subject crops up that isn’t board game related, you’ll forgive me, right?… Right?
Atikin Games Etsy Store – There will still be an Atikin Games Etsy store, as Etsy generates a lot of sales for me. But for those of you who know me, follow me, or come across my store through word-of-mouth it would be nice if I could make those sales without exorbitant fees (FYI Etsy fees are increasing in April which gave me the nudge I needed to do this).
Up until now I have been trying to keep my Etsy store 90% board game related, but I have so much more that I’ve made in the past that’s ready for a home, so once the Atikin Games web store launches (which will be 100% board game related content) I will use Etsy to sell other, less gamey bits I’ve made.