Finger Guns At High Noon
Play Time: 15min
Status: Design Complete, Signed With Publisher Indie Boards and Cards (early 2019 release)
About: Players take on the role of cowboys trying to eliminate each other by using a variety of actions, including the eponymous finger gun. Each round, there is an open discussion phase that allows for the chance of persuasion and colluding. When a player calls Draw!, all players simultaneously choose one action and form the associated hand gesture. Actions include things such as joining a posse, heading to the saloon, and hurting neighbors with dynamite. All actions either deal damage, heal damage, or provide some other useful ability. Hand gestures are resolved in order, and in some cases will be negated before they have a chance to resolve. Play repeats until there are 2 or less players with Health at the end of a round. When a player reaches 0 Health, they become a Ghost Cowboy, and can still snatch victory with the rest of their ghost brethren, or just mess with those that wronged them.
Design Notes: On paper, Finger Guns At High Noon is a strategic game of alliances and betrayals, thinking ahead, and outguessing opponents. In practice it is this to a degree, but is largely a chaotic game of yelling, lies, and laughs. The initial inspiration for this game came after playing BANG! The Dice Game. I enjoyed the game, though I had problems with its down time of waiting for one player to resolve their turn, player elimination, limited control over actions, and the unusual style of social deduction where most players must effectively start shooting strangers for half the game before roles are figured out. By addressing these problems, combined with the tension and energy from games like Cash and Guns and Rock, Paper, Wizard, I figured I could create something great - and I did.
Many play testers have told me this is the perfect party game. The game is quick to learn and play. Gameplay is simultaneous, so there is essentially no player down time. Players are encouraged to be social without forcing them too. In particular, players enjoyed the non-elimination aspect of the game. Instead of leaving, dead players join an ever growing team of ghosts that could still significantly impact the game and have a long shot at a team victory. Players also really enjoyed that the game could have two, one, or a team of winners, resulting in surprising player dynamics. The act of just pointing a finger gun at your friends is wonderful and ridiculous, but with a solid game of interesting choices behind it, it is fantastic. You also get to twirl an invisible lasso when trying to claim a bonus card, because why not?
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Play Time: 10-20min
Status: Design Complete, Seeking Publisher
About: This short strategy card game has players fighting for control of the kingdom by secretly influencing its key characters, such as the king, bishop, and jester. Each character has special rules on how it is interacts in the game and each is worth a certain number of victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of five rounds wins. Players each start with an identical hand of ten influence cards, numbered 1-10. Each round, each player will end up playing two of their influence cards face down on the character(s) they want to try to influence. All face down influence cards are then revealed. The player with the most total influence on a character gains influence over that character. This game features a unique "Tug-of-War" scoring mechanic, where in most cases players must have the most influence on a character for two rounds in succession to score that character. For any characters not scored, all influence cards attached to them remain to affect future contests. When a character is scored, it is added to a player's score pile and all influence cards attached to it are removed from the game.
Design Notes: The initial inspiration for this game was Smash Up and trick-taking games. I like the base scoring mechanic of Smash Up, in particular that each base was a different amount of points and had a different effect on gameplay. I set out to create a streamlined version of this combined with elements from trick-taking games that plays in 20min or less. The base game was created in under an hour on a late night BART ride. After that, I spent dozens of hours of design and play testing refining the game and creating more content. While the game is far from needing it, I also explored unique player powers that can be added to the game for advanced play and personalization. Players really enjoyed the high replayability and character effects that dramatically altered each game, such as Bishop requiring influence cards to be played face up, Spy Master that only scores at the end of the game, and Jester which is randomized to be either high or low points.
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Storage Auction Showdown
Play Time: 20-40min
Status: Design Complete, Free Release Coming Soon
About: Players take on the role of bidders at a public storage auction, managing their money and competing for the best buys. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins. Each round there is an auction for a lot of items. Some of the items are known (face up cards), while some are unknown (face down cards). Players have an open auction and simultaneous place bids. The player willing to pay the most gets all the items in the auction. Play continues until all the auctions are over. Each player plays as a special character with unique player powers and bonuses.
Design Notes: Storage Auction Showdown was my first board game which I developed seriously to completion. The goal of the game was to mimic the experience of popular TV shows on the subject, especially Storage Wars on AMC. Bidders compete in auctions for storage units that may hold trash or treasure, with only limited information. The process of working on this game was an excellent learning experience, and I drastically increased my game design skills while working on and playtesting it. The game is actually very simple in that players only have to decide when and how much to bid. The thought that goes into that decision and the dynamics that evolve around it make the game shine. The best thing about this game is the surprise after an auction is won. Likened to the reveal of a hand in a tense game of poker, everyone at the table gets to see if the bidder got a great deal or ended up with garbage. Players enjoyed the variety of content and streamlined, simultaneous gameplay.
The most important lesson I learned making this game was unexpected though now obvious: a game can't just be fun, it needs to have something unique and a marketing hook. The board game industry is exploding, and competition is greater than ever. Every game needs to stand out in a special unique way, ideally multiple ways. This is where Storage Auction Showdown failed in a commercial sense. If there is no strong initial hook to get customers excited about your game enough to buy or play it in the first place, or rave about it afterwards, then it can't do well. While the game has a few original things going on and a unique combination of elements, it is nothing special in the eyes of most players, even if they really enjoy it. The experience was eye opening, and very beneficial. When I work on projects now I strive to design uniqueness from the beginning.
Work on Storage Auction Showdown has been completed. While I don't see the game being commercially viable, and am no longer pursuing that route, I intend to share it as a free print-and-play for gamers around the world and getting nice boxed copies created for friends and dedicated fans.
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Notable BOARD Game Events InvolvemenT
Pacificon 40 (2018) - Managed Game Library
Ani.me (2018) - Staffed Booth Selling And Demoing Card Games
Protospiel San Jose (2018) - Marketing Manager, Overhauled Website
Big Bad Con (2017) - Ran Teen Room
Haiti Con (2017) - Registration/Greeter