FINGER GUNS AT HIGH NOON | Genre: Party , Players: 3-10 , Play Time: 20min
Status: Releasing June 26, 2019 from publisher Indie Boards and Cards.
“Three! Two! One! DRAW!” Finger Guns at High Noon is a fast-paced game of strategy, negotiation, and pure hilarity - battle royale style. Craft your plan, convince the crowd to join in, then count down and draw your finger guns. Hand gestures show everyone’s actions and targets. Eliminate players with pistols, dynamite, and power shots, or stand to the side and lasso up an ally. Last player standing is the winner - unless the ghosts eliminate everyone. Do you have the fastest draw in the west?
Design Notes: The initial inspiration for this game came from two separate things. The first was trying to create an RPG played just with hands as a design exercise. I made some interesting mini-games ideas but I wanted something more cohesive with more design space. The second inspiration was after playing BANG! The Dice Game. I enjoyed the game and liked the tension, though I had personal 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. I also liked the idea of active gestures from games like Cash and Guns and Rock, Paper, Wizard. Drawing from these I focused on creating a game I would better enjoy.
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 can 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?
BATTLEFIELD EARTH | Genre: STRATEGY/BIDDING , Players: 2-5 , Play Time: 15-40min
Status: Releasing 2020. Design Complete. Signed with publisher BARD Games.
In the year 3000, man is an endangered species. The brutal Psychlos control most of the universe, including Earth and its vast deposits of extremely valuable gold. Dozens of alien factions vie for power using everything from political scheming to blatant military attacks. Greed, corruption, and fear control these times. Now is the perfect chance for a cunning opportunist like yourself to rise to power.
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 will use two of your Leverage cards by placing each of them face down next to any 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 style 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 hard won 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 core of this 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 enjoy the high replayability and character effects that dramatically alter each game, such as Numph requiring leverage 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.
ALIEN MATING CALLS | Genre: PARTY , Players: 6-12 , Play Time: 15min
Status: Pitching to publishers. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me. See Sell Sheet.
Alien Mating Calls is a ridiculous party game that is out of this world. Each round, each player takes on the role of a random alien. Your goal is to figure out which other player to best pair up with, but you can only do so by calling out alien noises! If you pair up smartly, you’ll score maximum points for the round. The player that has the most points at the end of the game wins.
Design Notes: I wanted to create a deduction party game that was silly, anyone could play, and had gameplay that was new and memorable. I didn’t want a standard team vs team approach like Resistance, or a one vs many like Spyfall or Chameleon, though I enjoy those games. I like games like Dixit where abstract messages are being communicated, and word games like Taboo and Charades where there is a restriction on communication, and drew some inspiration from them. The initial game was conceived and tested within a few hours and went over very well. After more thought and many play tests, I stumbled upon the secret sauce of the game - have aliens that have overlapping features without being too similar or distinct and to have the possibility of a betrayer with the Mimic card so players can never be certain they have the best match. Players like the dynamic gameplay and watching their friends make hilarious noises.
STORAGE AUCTION SHOWDOWN | Genre: AUCTION , Players: 2-5 , Play Time: 20-40min
Status: Released. Game Available Here.
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 released 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.