Finger Guns At High Noon
Play Time: 15min
Status: Design Complete, Signed With Publisher Indie Boards and Cards (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, energy, and active gestures 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?
Play Time: 15-40min
Status: Design Complete, Signed With Publisher BARD Games (2020 release)
About: In Battlefield Earth, players are competing for the most Gold. To get Gold, you must gain Leverage over important Characters, such as Jonnie, Terl, Robert The Fox, Blan Jetso, and Selachee.
You start the game with a hand of 12 Leverage cards, numbered 0–11. Each round you must bid two of your Leverage cards by placing them face down next to Characters in play. If you have the highest total Leverage on a Character at the end of a round, you will Sway that Character.
Battlefield Earth features a Tug Of War scoring system. In most cases, to score a Character and take some of its Gold, you must Sway that Character twice without another player interrupting. Expect a lot of scheming and back-and-forth fights. You can’t win every contest, so you’ll need to be strategic and sneaky to be victorious. The player with the most Gold at the end of the game wins.
Design Notes: The initial inspiration for this game was Smash Up and trick-taking games, though it plays very different from either. 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. 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. Players really enjoythe high replayability and character effects that dramatically alter each game, such as Numph requiring influence cards to be played face up, Robert the Fox that only scores at the end of the game, and Terl which is only affected by high value cards.
Storage Auction Showdown
Play Time: 20-40min
Status: Released. Game Available Here.
About: A streamlined open bidding auction game with unique player powers and hidden information.
Can you best manage your cash, buy the right items, and play to your unique strengths to become master of the storage auction?
In Storage Auction Showdown, players are competing in a storage auction. The auction consists of a series of storage units being sold off, one after the other. Storage units have a randomized variety of items inside. Items come in 8 different types, including several special unique items. Each item scores you points and/or utilizes an ability. Some items will be hidden from you during an auction, so you’ll need to decide how much of your cash you want to risk bidding on the unknown. The player willing to pay the most for a storage unit gets all its items, whether those are treasures or trash. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins!
Storage Auction Showdown features unique player powers and hidden information, is quick to learn and play, and has high replayability. It also has a significant amount of luck, is family friendly, no player elimination, and minimal downtime.
Design Notes: Storage Auction Showdown was my first completed board game. 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 play testing it. The game rules are 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.
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