Game Design

My (Kinda) Official Prototype is Ready to Play!

I’ve been working hard to produce a more professional-looking prototype. I don’t have theme, artwork, or design finalized—but I still wanted a decent game to put in front of strangers and playtest.

Let me briefly explain my assets:

  • Cards (Tarot Sized)
  • Mats (Letter Sized Paper)
  • Count markers (10mm wooden cubes)
  • Player pieces (Meeple)
  • Coins (Spanish Doubloons)
  • Vote Tokens (Stamped wooden chips)

I bought the Count markers, coins, and player pieces off of amazon. The cards, mats, and Vote Tokens had some level of crafty shit done to them.

I’m going to forgo my usual inner conflict headers for a more retro, non-asshole voice. Maybe I won’t be so sad from writing one of these!

Cry me a river

That was the last one—promise! Here we go.

DIY materials purchased (get ready for a shit-ton of Amazon links):

Other materials purchased:

Design of the Cards and Mats

My current design isn’t complicated. I haven’t settled on the specifics of the theme and artwork but I don’t want that to stop me from showing this game off to members of the game community with a semi-professional presence.

Unless your printer is phenomenal at double-sided printing, avoid it at all costs.

Adobe Illustrator is my design application of choice. I have some design experience and I feel more comfortable with Illustrator. It’s easy to create multiple art boards in a single project and treat them each as a single-sided page.

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 6.05.53 PM
Screenshot of some of the artboards in my illustrator file.

I took a bunch of icons off of and organized them inside of letter sized art boards, some with 4 copies of a tarot card template that I found.

Tarot Card Template

The template was just an image, and I couldn’t find a better template at the time, so I just manually “copied” the template by creating rectangles and rounding their corners (the dashed rectangle represents the “safe zone” boundary for keeping your text and important elements inside.

A key here was to make sure that the cards couldn’t be seen through, so I used thick, beautiful paper when printing.

I designed this with the goal of cutting and folding the cards. If you’re designing portrait cards, make sure that the back icon has the same orientation as the front (text) side. If you’re designing landscape cards though, make sure the back icon is reflected (upside-down) compared to the front.

Print and Cut

The play mats are designed to print on normal, letter-sized paper. No need to cut these. The cards, however, are a different story.

The paper cutter that I have compromises quantity for quality. I can only cut one sheet of paper at a time but with far better precision.

Round the Corners

For that natural card feel, I bought this edge rounding tool. It’s great to give my cards a normal feel, although there were some issues. I’m not sure if it was this edge rounder or if this is just how they all work, but it’s good to proceed with caution.

Sometimes, the edge rounder took too big of a bite out of my corners.

Other times, not a big enough bite was taken.

But in the end, it was worth it to have a more natural-looking playing card.


I’d round corners, fold in half, then round the folded corners. The reason. I did it this was was in the hopes that at least one side of my cards would look better on average and distract from the gross-looking side. (It made sense at the time!)

If you’re using thinner paper (I think I used 110 lb paper) then you may not face the same edge rounding challenge.

After the rounding and folding, I’d slide these in a tarot-sized card sleeve and have a decent looking card!

Custom Tokens from Wooden Chips

My game has eight different types of vote tokens, used to solve crises during the game. To create these, my amazing partner created custom stamps and stamped wooden chips.

Carve Custom Stamps

My partner carved shapes out of a rubber sheet with an X-acto knife and blade set.


First, though, it’s important to create a stamp that works. Stamps need proper padding such that when pressure is applied, the ink presses down as evenly as possible. To achieve this, we cut out squares from a rubber sheet and from a sheet of sticker felt.

Sticker felt adheres well to wood, and we used gorilla glue to adhere the rubber square to the felt. This gives us the padding that we need to ensure even pressure when stamping.

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After the glue dried, we adhered the shapes to the rubber and boom! custom stamps.

Then it was a matter of stamping wooden chips (purchased on Amazon). We stamped one side, let that dry, then flipped and stamped the other.

Now I’m ready to play!

I’m nowhere near finished with this game yet. I’ve got to create all of the artwork, graphic design, refine the story and theme, and don’t even get me started on kickstarting, manufacturing, and shipping & fulfillment! What am I getting myself into here?

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