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To Please the Court

24 Dec


You are an up-and-coming courtier trying to leverage gifts and favours to the royal court in order to gain influence and a better position of power for yourself. Who’s favour will you seek? Who’s displeasure will you earn? Who will play their cards just right and Please the Court?

Ages: 6+

Players: 1 or 2

Interesting Features: Trying to fulfill gift lists? Giving and receiving? Head-to-head battles for recognition and favours?  It almost screams of the holidays doesn’t it? How could I not offer this to everyone as a Christmas present?

Plus there is a version for those who prefer to be alone. Merry Christmas!

Extras Needed: A Deck of Playing Cards and maybe a pencil and paper for scoring (if you are really keen).

DOWNLOAD: To Please the Court Rules

DOWNLOAD: To Please the Court Boards

Printing Directions: Print the Rules on both sides of an 8.5 x 11″sheet of paper (landscape) and fold in half to make a booklet. Print the Court Boards on some heavy paper/cardstock and cut in half.

Designer’s Notes: (or “How to reinvent Rummy with No Dice”) Roll and Write games are very popular now for good reason – because they are a lot of fun! One day I was wondering if you could do a Roll and Write with Cards instead of dice. Call it a Draw and Write if you like. And then as flipped through a deck of cards and thought more I realized that I’m lazy so why write when there are already numbers on the cards. So what I present to you is my version of a Roll and Write game with absolutely no rolling or writing and which became instead, basically Rummy tweaked to have no dice in it whatsoever.


Don’t Even!

29 Oct

dont even

“Don’t Even!” it is a not-so-gentle reminder to watch your scoring, and the last ditch cry for those daughters whose best laid plans are about to be ruined by their big meany of a dad who won’t take that card from their sister instead!

Ages: 6+

Players: 2 – 6

Interesting Features: Finally a game that relies on Math and a gleeful “Take That” attitude! This is a sure-fire hit for everyone who wants their children to dislike them even more. (I said I was sorry, Cora, but I really needed that blue 3 and you were the only one I could take it from. I promise to pick on your sister next game.)

Players can play cards to (and then take cards from) any player in the game. Need a card you don’t have in your hand? Take it from someone else. No one is safe. But You must give them a card of equal or greater value in return.

The kicker? Only sets of cards that add up to an odd number score for you. Groups of cards that are even score against you!

Extras Needed: A pencil and paper for scoring, or a calculator, or a math whiz you can trust.

DOWNLOAD: Don’t Even! (Rules)

DOWNLOAD: Don’t Even! (Cards)

Designer’s Notes: One of my all time favourite games is “No Thanks” it is a masterpiece of elegance and agonizing decisions. In No thanks you can decide not to take a card that will score against you, but you must offer a token that will make the card more palatable for your opponents to take instead. This game began with a similar idea … you can take cards you need from your opponents, but you must give them something just as good (or better) in return. And if you want to ask how this game stacks up to its muse … Don’t Even!

Triton’s Garden

6 Jan


Ages: 8+

Players: 3 – 6

Interesting Features: King Triton is building a new underwater garden and he needs your help to stock it with all things beautiful. Collect the right kinds of fish to gain his praise, but watch out for those mischievous dolphins!

So many options for scoring! So many options for messing up your opponent’s scoring! And dolphins … because, why not?

Extras Needed: One deck of regular Playing Cards and a pencil & paper for scoring.

DOWNLOAD: Triton’s Garden

Making Your Own Deck: I have a nice aquatic themed deck of cards to go with this game. Send me an email and I can provide you with the link so you can make one for yourself if you like!

Designer’s Notes: The idea and core mechanics for this game, I am very proud to say, came from the very creative mind of my daughter. I’m not sure what she has against dolphins. You will have to ask her. What a pleasure to be able to share with you the work of our collective craziness.


One More Round

23 Dec


Ages: 8+

Players: 3 – 6

Interesting Features: The increased scoring of each round’s particular cards means that everyone is still “in the game” right to the very end … even if your first few rounds really stunk. Consider it valuable practice and buckle down when it really counts!

Extras Needed: One deck of Italian Playing Cards.

DOWNLOAD: One More Round

Making Your Own Deck: You can make your own deck of Italian playing cards by shortening a regular deck. Simply remove all the 8, 9, 10’s. This will leave you with a deck of 40 cards.

Designer’s Notes: The theme of trading tales and buying ales might be enhanced by doing just that. This is a lighthearted game made for socializing and the imbibing your favourite beverage.


The Tiltyard

13 Jun


Will you be the knight who makes his fortune, or might you be the one to lose your fortune or even your life? Its time to step onto the field of glory … It’s time to enter the Tiltyard!

Ages: 7+

Players: 2

Interesting Features: The lance, the axe, the sword.  Three rounds of gruelling passes to prove your skill, best your opponent and win renown. But battles are won or lost just as easily in the courts of royal favour as they are on the field of honour.  Having the King’s ear, or the Queen’s heart may be the boost to your renown that makes all the difference.

Extras Needed: A standard deck of cards (Jokers optional)

DOWNLOAD: THE TILTYARD (New and Improved Rules!)

Printing Suggestions: Pretty straightforward – one piece of paper with the rules printed on both sides.  Fold it in half and you are ready to go!

Designer’s Notes: Sean Ross, over at the Geek (BoardgameGeek) initiated a 2-player card game design contest.  This was my SPECTACULARLY AWESOME ENTRY … that lost …  As I post this the constest is still going on, but since the first round of voting is over and my game didn’t make it through I proudly (???) offer it here for your consideration and enjoyment.  When you have tried this out why not go check out all the other great entries in the contest.  You won’t be sorry (for them I mean … I make no such claims for mine!)

June 2013 UPDATE … Ok, in a word, this game lost because it kind of sucked … the more I looked at it the more I decided that it was more about the game playing you, than you playing it. There just were not enough meaningful choices.  So I went back to the drawing board and what you have is a brand new game with 75% less suckage … Give or take …

What you now have in front of you is a much truer Climbing style game, with some wicked little twists to keep you engaged right to the very end. Not bad for a two player game!  Anyway, to those who played the earlier version I apologize … and offer this up with the hopes that you will give it a try and like it so much that you forget all about the earlier one (earlier one? … what earlier one?)



31 May

A traditional Card game in the line of such greats as Hearts and Spades …

Ages: 10+ (could play younger if the child is comfortable with numbers)

Players: 3 – 6

Interesting Features: In Diamonds players seek to score points for all the Diamonds they claim. The twist, however, is that each player speculates (bids), using cards from their starting hand, on just how much each Diamond card they claim will be worth to them! Oh, and Trump cards are always played face-down, just in case you thought it was going to be easy to make a fortune in the diamond market.

Extras Needed: a standard deck of playing cards

DOWNLOAD: Diamonds Rules

DOWNLOAD: Diamonds Score Sheet

Printing Suggestions: The rules print onto standard Letter size piece of paper. The score sheets can also be printed on a standard Letter size piece of paper, and then cut in two.

Designer’s Notes: Careful speculation is key to this game, not just in earning points, but also in managing your hand to make it more likely to win the tricks that will gain you diamonds. Don’t be afraid to use higher value cards in making your speculation bid! Sometimes it is also better to give an opponent a diamond than to claim it for yourself … again it all depends on their speculation. Also, because both the speculation and any trump card played are  hidden, there is plenty of room for bluffing.


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!