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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!

Freedom Springs

14 Feb

Freedom Springs: Redemption has a price … and it might just be your life!

Ages: 10+ (for thematic content)

Players: 3 – 5

Interesting Features: The gambling games you know and love … with a twist … and a guy nicknamed “locoweed”

Extras Needed: a deck of playing cards,poker chips (in at least three distinct denominations/colours) and the included Character Cards (below).

DOWNLOAD: Character Cards


Printing Suggestions: Everything prints onto standard Letter size pieces of paper. The Character Cards can be printed on a full page label and applied (front and back) to some heavy card.

Designer’s Notes: Add the NaGa DeMon Challenge, an outstanding request for an Old West game, and more gumption than brains on my part, and what you get (three months late) is an Old West gambling game. Why gambling? Whenever I think of the old west one of the first images that comes to mind are poker games in a saloon. The second is a gunfight in the dusty streets. And lets face it, any time gunfights are invovled the whole thing is one great big gamble!

–  –  –

Designer’s Apology and Offering: The fact that this November Game Design Month Challenge is only now being published here for your enjoyment says about all there is to say about my life recently. Work, health, family additions … sometimes the game design has to come second (or third or last) … BUT you dear friend(s) and fan(s) NEVER will!  To thank you for all your patience with me, and to bribe you into playing the game I propose the following.

Give the game a try. Send me your feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly). Give me your suggestions. Ask me your questions. Helpme tweak it and make it even better. In return I will design an additional set of Outlaws using YOU! Along with your feedback send me a picture and a Cowboy name for yourself (or I can give you one) and I will work you into the expansion as one of Freedom Springs notorious Outlaws. Send these to “kenmgames @” This expansion will also allow for more players to be included in each game. Thanks again for your support!

Pay the Prize

26 May

Everyone knows that it takes money to make money. The more you pay the better your chance of scoring big … or of having your opponents clean you out. Will you play it safe or are you willing to Pay the Prize?

Ages: 7+

Players: 2 – 6

Interesting Features: being willing to pay out more of your chips gives you better chances of claiming other chips, but can you recoup your losses or are you just giving your money away?

Extras Needed: a deck of playing cards, coins or poker chips (in three distinct denominations/colours)  … a marker or pawn for each player.

DOWNLOAD: Pay the Prize

Printing Suggestions: Everything prints onto a standard Letter size piece of paper. Couldn’t be easier.

Designer’s Notes: Much like Barnyard Brawl, this idea had been kicking around in my wastepaper basket … filing system … for a looooonnngg time. It has also gone through three or twelve different minor tweaks where I basically changed everything about the game except that it was played with cards and chips and pawns (although I think this even got thrown out … filed … at one point or another!) The breakthrough came when I stumbled upon the idea of limiting the way in which the chips had to be payed onto the board, and then expanding the idea of the chips to include different denominations, thus making for some unpleasant decisions. A little bit of pain makes for a whole lot better of a game … especially when that pain is your opponent’s! Oh yeah, and I finally got to use the word “Mooch” in a game … sweet!

–  –  –

Designer’s Challenge: What variations can YOU come up with? Post them here in the comments … let’s see how many we can create!  Just remember to give it a snappy name … or I will.  All the variations I receive I will then format into a second “printing” of the rules – complete with full recognition for each person submitting (and a free copy emailed directly to their inbox for printing!) This very rich prize pool is made possible by the fact that in play testing I didn’t realize that when playing with real money my wife wouldn’t give it back after she won it from me. (I want my two dollars!)