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State of the Gaming Address

26 Mar

Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I realized that it had been over a year since I had last posted here … and that in that time I had learned the word “chagrin” … As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been taking a little different tack to my game designing, you know, like, trying to make a decent one sometime.

To this end I have been refocusing my efforts on taking my designs past the very first rudimentary stages of jotting down an idea, writing some rules and playtesting it against myself a few times. Now I actually have some friends to tell me when things are not good. (They are much more willing to hurt my feelings than I ever was – and I am most thankful for it!) Give me a few more years of toughening up my skin and I may yet reach my lofty goal of blazing mediocrity.

But just so you know that I haven’t been idle I thought I would give you a little teaser of some of the projects I have been working on in the past year.  Here they are in no particular chronological order …

First, as I also mentioned in that previous post, I have begun going back into my catalog of crap and doing some re-working. O Tannen BOOM! got a bit of a face lift, and a couple of mechanical changes to really heighten the tension, and timing. Behind the 8-Ball got totally reworked, scrapped, rebuilt into Cue It Up!, and then scrapped and re-shelved. I am hoping something gels and I get some inspiration again soon. Pay the Prize also got a major overhaul, into something I’m now calling Profit Margins. I like where it is going. I have also revisited Balloon Tycoon, and I like what I see there …

420091_10150704129492059_1014883846_ncue it upProfit Margins

Next up I have been working on some new stuff too. For now I will let the pictures do the talking. I’m getting kind of tired (did I mention it’s been over a year since I did this much writing?)

Pillars and Postshold fast picDonkeyMonkey moonInfectiousCaverns and CoffersOver the Rainbow Proto

Some of these are actually pretty good, and at least a couple of them are worth publishing (if playtester reports are true … and not just my own opinion … )

And lastly, I have also worked collaboratively with a couple of really awesome designers, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve put together. Look for promising futures out of both of these creative minds. May I present the designs of Sam Maher (age 8) and Becca Maher (age 6)

Castle BuilderPippi Game

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my missing year in game design. If you would like to know more about any of the games you see here, or serve as a playtester for something here that looked interesting to you please drop me a line and I will be tickled to send you the particular files (seriously, all this typing after a year of nothing is tickling my fingertips like you wouldn’t believe!)

Happy Gaming!


Barnyard Brawl

2 Mar

The barnyard is getting crowded and the animals are getting bored. So what do you do to fill an afternoon?  Why not battle it out for bragging rights and first go at the trough tonight?

Ages: 7+

Players: 2

Interesting Features: Movable board elements, Combat Cards and MUD!  What more can you want in a 2 player abstract board game?

Extras Needed: nothing!

DOWNLOAD: Barnyard Brawl Files

Printing Suggestions: the Cards and rules can be printed on regular Letter-sized paper.  Print the Cards on heavier paper like cardstock (I wonder why they call it that?) or laminate them to make them last.  The Board and Playing Pieces can also be printed on Letter-sized paper, but you may want to enlarge them if your eyesight is bad like mine.  Just make sure you enlarge each by the same amount.  Cut out the Mud tile and the Wall tiles and mount to some heavy card or (for the wall sections and playing pieces) some foam-core board.

Designer’s Notes: this game has been sitting half-finished in my secret lair for several years now.  It all started way back when I tried to ruin nearly every classic game out there.  I had done a pretty decent job of butchering chess with my game Over-Draughts, so being drunk on “success” had decided to tackle Chinese Chess.  I got the basics of the game and then realized something … it was so boring I didn’t have the heart to finish it!  So there it sat.  Years later as I once again found myself in the old lair hiding from the children and the dishes I came across the dusty old files and thought “Wow is that ever dull!  Still it beats going upstairs …”  Soon I had added some movable elements and the cards and now it is finally worth every penny I sell it for … almost.

10 Mighty Men

16 Jun

10 Mighty Pic

Taking a timeless classic and making it something not worse! … I think …

Ages: 7+

Players: 2

Interesting Features: How and when you choose to use these variations is up to you.  Use them one at a time or all together – it’s your call.  Use only the ones you like and ignore the others.  Use nothing but these special pieces if you are feeling particularly foolhardy!

Extras Needed: A Mancala board, 48 “neutral” coloured stones or tokens, assorted stones or tokens in distinct colours (see rules).

DOWNLOAD: 10 Mighty Men

Printing Suggestions: Pretty straightforward – one piece of paper with the rules printed on both sides. The second file is designed to be printed on a sheet of standard business cards.  Each card has the information for One Mighty Man, and are meant to be kept in front of the player for easy reference during any game where said piece is being used.


DOWNLOAD: 10 Mighty Cards

Designer’s Notes: Tom Wham, designer extraordinaire, has been an inspiration of mine for a long time (my apologies if this connection is less than flattering for Mr. Wham … providing inspiration does not make you responsible!)  I first discovered the joys of Mr. Wham’s hilarious and charming  designs with the great game “Planet Busters.”  Recently Mr. Wham came up with a brilliant variant of Backgammon called (obviously) “Whamgammon“.  This got me thinking that there are many other venerable games which could be updated in similar fashion … and so here is my first attempt.  Again, Mr. Wham, while in a way responsible for the game before you … is in no way to blame for the game before you.  I will take that credit myself.

Coffee Table Caverns

20 Dec

ctc11No longer are the dark bowels of the under-earth the exclusive haunt of poor graduate students who are forced to live in their parent’s basement. Now it is the realm of strategic battles, unearthly magic, and ghoulish fiends … Just make sure you clean it up by 7:00 … the Johnsons are coming over and we need the rec-room back!

Ages: 7+

Players: 2

Interesting features: a game of miniatures that even I can understand! The play is in the tactics, not measuring tapes, hundreds of pages of rules, and countless charts and tables. This game comes with several boards that can be mixed and matched BUT it can even be played out on a standard chess / checkers board!

Extras Needed: Some of those Little Fantasy Miniatures – plundered from another game or your local Roleplayer … or use the optional Cut-outs (Extra Parts) below. 1 or 2 Six-sided dice





Printing Suggestions: You can Enlarge the boards to 11×17 … but the 8.5X11 works just fine. Trim them up and they are ready to become your ever-changing Dungeon of Danger! The Cards are meant to be printed on a standard sheet of Business Cards. If you are using the included playing pieces for miniatures, cut them out and fold them in half. They stand up really well if you then place them in a small binder clip.

Designer’s Notes: You knew it would happen sooner or later … I ran out of little green army men.  With a board game designed around them they thought they were safe at last … but you’re never safe when you are that little and fun to mangle, mutilate and blow up!  As I gathered up the pieces of my final Table Top Trooper blood bath, consigning to the long dark the last legs and limbs of my valiant forces I wan’t yet willing to admit defeat.  Just because all my men were gone shouldn’t mean that the fun was over.  But what could I do?  No way my wife would let me near her collectable bear figurines.  So what now?  Then I had an idea … an awful  idea … then I got a wonderful, awful idea!  With a twinkle in my eye I said to myself “Now where did I put all those fantasy miniatures …”

Table Top Troopers

18 Dec

tttBringing a childhood institution into the realm of grown-up fun! Go and dig all those Little Green Army Men out of the back of the closet, dust them off, and begin the battles all over again. (Assuming you have any left that you didn’t burn with the magnifying glass, decapitate in a firecracker explosion, or send to their demise in the quicksands of the neighbour’s sandbox.)

Ages: 7+

Players: 2 or 3

Interesting features: a game of miniatures that even I can understand! The play is in the tactics, not measuring tapes, hundreds of pages of rules, and countless charts and tables. This game comes with several boards that can be mixed and matched BUT it can even be played out on a standard chess / checkers board!

Extras Needed: 1 Package of Little Green (or Tan) Army men for each player. If you can’t find them in two distinct colours, the bases will have to be painted different colours to keep them separate! 1 or 2 Six-sided dice.





New Scenarios, New Pieces, New Weapons, New Tactics
Special Thanks to Derek Hohls and Tim Andersen for their input!





DEREK’S DOZEN (a TTT expansion by Derek Hohls)



Printing Suggestions: Enlarge the boards to 11×17. (Unless you are using 25mm figures … then 8.5X11 works perfectly) Trim them up and they are ready to become your own private killing fields! (see an example of Derek’s Home-Made Boards [above] for his 50mm figures … who said this has to be complicated?

Designer’s Notes: So there I am, walking through the Dollar Store (as I often do after pay day) and what do I spy upon the shelf but a package of those cheap little green army men. Instantly I was transported back to my misspent childhood and all the fun I used to have playing the neighbourhood martyr “My guy throws himself on the grenade … Kaboom!” I figured that if I could play games with them when I was little then it would be easy to come up with a game using them now that I was older and wiser. I bought a pack on faith. Several months later the game had not yet formed, but all my army men were dead and gone (blown to little bits). On the way back to the store to buy more the idea finally hit. Miniatures combat for dummies like me. Update that stinky old chess set for the age of modern militia! I showed the finished idea to my brother-in-law, Tim … the Captain and he pulled a few strings with the DND so after a full security screening here it is.

Quest For A Girlfriend

18 Dec

girlfriendIt’s Friday night … and you’re a loser.

Tonight is the night when you will finally get a date (or die trying ).
Tonight you are on a Quest … a Quest for a Girlfriend!

Ages: 7+

Players: 2-6

Interesting features: “Let’s Just Be Friends!” (Need I say more?)

Extras Needed: A couple of 6 sided dice, And if you are not using the included pieces: A marker (pawn) for each player, 3 different types of tokens (coins, poker chips, etc.)


Printing Suggestions: You need the first 3 files FOR SURE. (Although the 4th is useful too!) Enlarge the game boards to 11×17, trim and tape together. Each of the Card sheets should be printed with the card type on the Back (included in each card file), laminate and cut out. The player pieces should be cut out in rectangles, folded in half (name on one side, picture on the other). They stand up really well if you then place them in a small binder clip.

Designer’s Notes: What can I say? It was a blue period of my life. And sometimes art truly does imitate life. This is the first game I ever put together. It has seen a couple of different prototypes and a few additional cards over the years, but all in all is pretty close to the original. The one big change I made along the way was to actually give a guy a chance to get a date. The original ONLY had the “Reality Bites” rules. Strangely enough, this game has always been most popular with boys too young to want to date (they were just in it to collect tokens and laugh when somebody else got a date) or female friends (who were always suprisingly good at the game)!

Steppin’ Stones

17 Dec

2steppinYou’re Stuck in the Muck and there’s only one way out … lay out a series of stepping stones and run your way across. Easier said than done, for in this game you are your own worst enemy … well OK, you’re the only player, so just try not to goof it up too much! A puzzling challenge for the analytical thinker – or a mindless diversion for the rest of us.

Ages: 8+

Players: 1

Interesting Features: While the rolling of so many dice may make this game seem overly random, to be successful you need to be very methodical in your planning. (WOW … Can I make this sound any LESS interesting?!)

Extras Needed: the piecepack game system.(You can download and print one for free HERE)


Printing Suggestions: Rules are designed to be printed on both sides of the same 8.5X11

Designer’s Notes: Ah what a fool I’ve been! All these years of hiding in the basement working on games to try and avoid the dishes (see Dish Pan Hands) — when something far more hideous has been lurking ’round the bend. What I wouldn’t give for a carefree night of scraping plates and soapy water! Just so long as I don’t have to take my life in my hands and go near the explosive little boy called my brand new son. That little guy is loaded in both ends and just waiting to go off! A ticking time bomb of twelve kinds of muck and fluids (shudder). Perhaps this feeling trapped in an endless cycle of mucky diapers lead subconsciously to the theme for this game. All I know is that every once in a while a person needs a game they can play alone … in silence … by the light of a pocket flashlight … in the back of the storage room in the basement … where that adorable little diaper-bomb can’t find you. And where there are no dishes. Enjoy.