New Site, Who Dis?

Quick update for everyone who has followed my board game development diaries over at I’ve rebranded myself! With a new site, comes a new me. I’m going to discontinue (or at least tone down) my inner critic interjections in my articles.

You can’t get rid of me that easily

I’m also going to soon be releasing a couple of quick print and play card games in the coming weeks. These games are designed to be short, 2 player games. I want to change some theme and design on them first before releasing them. They’ll both be free of charge!

Why would people want to print something out on fresh paper that is already trash?

I’ve also completely redirected all underthetabletop traffic here. You’ll see updates on news, access to the games that I develop, and other good or at least ambivalent stuff here at Otherworld Games from now on!

Otherworld Games? Because everyone wishes you were on another planet and couldn’t talk to them? Ha! Am—Am I right?

I’m also working double-time on playtesting and creating artwork for one of my longer projects, Oath. It’s a working title, and I’ve recently noticed that another company took the name recently…so I’ll definitely need to figure out another name. Trademark names if you like them—lesson learned.

W—Well that was a dumb move, dummy! Get it? Because you’re dumb? Please stop ignoring me

Soon, I’ll have information on how you can download the free print and play games. I’ll have another mailing list and some feedback forms up. I’m going to be pushing the playtest circuit harder this holiday season on into next year for Oath. Of course, I’ll document my process along the way. I’m eager to get these things out there in front of everyone!

How dare you be this positive! You can’t silence me — I have rights! You can’t just block me out like this! I’m lonely

I’ve got some fun stuff on the way. Some before the end of the year, some well into summer of next year, some I can’t even fathom yet. Are you excited yet? I’m excited. I know I have literally nothing to show you except old print and play links…but I’m getting there. Bear with me! And thank you all for your support.

My Promises to My Future Self

I have the corniest reason for selecting this picture of a mountain top as my featured image. I took this photo while backpacking for a couple of days in the North Cascades. This is Colchuck Lake. My wife and I took this trip as a sort of pre-honeymoon, a few weeks before we got married.


When I took the photo, I thought it was neat how the mountain was reflected on the water. I’m using the photo now because it’s sentimental and reminds me of a time when I was granted quiet, peaceful reflection. Mainly, I reflect on how lucky I am to have an amazing wife who supports me and to be surrounded by people who also have an interest in what I’m doing here.

I’m ready to take the next step forward and turn this design thing from a fun hobby into something real.

This is a board games blog, not live journal (is that still a thing?)

I’ve got a few things that I believe I’ve got to change to really get me there. I hope that I don’t lose people during this transition, but I think it’s for the better. Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • I’m working on an official name for the entity that I design games under. It’s not going to be “Under the Tabletop.” I really haven’t cared about an official name so far. My thought process on this is that I should have a game close to ready, something to really show, before I brand my work. Nothing is set in stone yet and as such, I have nothing more to say on that. But I’ll keep everyone informed along the way. I’d rather make this change now than later when I have a game or two being kickstarted and I don’t really know what to call myself.
  • Some time early next year, I’m going to close down Under the Tabletop and redirect all traffic to a new site. I’ll still keep up my development diaries, although they may expand somewhat.
  • I likely may not continue the whole “drink and review” thing. I haven’t written a drink and game pairing review in a while. It was fun, but my time so far has been so consumed with creating things that when I get to play a game with someone, I want to enjoy the moment. The drink and game review began to feel like a chore. At first, I thought it was a great way to show everyone that I’m actively participating in the board game community, but I think I’ve got different ways of showing that now.
  • I’m going to take on at least one smaller project and have it ready for a kickstarter campaign by March 2020. When I mean smaller project, I mean a shorter-paced game that you could likely fit in your wallet or a tin can. I have a few ideas on what that looks like and I’ll definitely keep everyone posted on that.

Thanks to everyone who has followed me thus far and I hope that you’re all there after my vaguely worded changes. (I promise, I’ll have more to come once I settle on a name and set up a C corp.)

My Button Shy 18 Card Game Challenge Extravaganza

Here’s a short update.

Thank goodness

Last month, I participated in the Button Shy Games 18 Card Game Challenge. Here were the terms of the challenge:

  • Make a game that only consists of 18 Cards
  • All cards have to be identical — no exceptions

I made a game where, from a grid of cards of primary colors, you create sequences of secondary colors. You then take a certain amounts of the cards involved in creating that sequence.

I titled my little card game: A Colorful Game

I’m not sure of the details or outcome of the challenge. If I don’t win —

Which is likely

Which is likely (oh no, I’m agreeing with my inner critic) — I’ll release my print and play version for free. If I somehow do win, I’m not sure what will happen to the game.

I’m also debating whether to enter this month’s challenge to create an 18 card game that doesn’t allow for a table or play surface (all cards must be in players hands the whole time).

Anyway, here’s a short gameplay demo video of A Colorful Game where I play an intense session against my dog.

I’ve been quiet for a while — here’s what I’ve been working on

Apologies for flying under the radar for so long. I’ve had my head down, working on a lot of projects. Some of these are board games, some are me attempting (poorly) to get back into creative writing.

Here’s what I’ve been working on:

  • Based on playtest feedback and my personal vision, a revitalized version of Oath
  • Trying to pull my head out of my ass about promoting my game and building a emailing list
  • Editing two short stories, of which I’m thinking of starting another site to give them a home
  • Playtesting some ideas for the Button Shy Games 18 identical card game challenge (if you’re interested, you still have a week to submit something)

I think that about sums it up. Settle in, this is a long one.

Thanks for the update — now I’ve gotta run

Let’s talk about Oath first: My last post went on about how much I got my ass kicked, both losing the game and having it torn to shreds. That was the greatest thing to happen to Oath to date. Now I’ve really taken all of this to heart while (trying) to remain emotionally distant.

Images below contain placeholder artwork and are farrrr from final.

Here’s a high level of the flow of the game now:

  1. You play as a character with hidden win conditions (your Oaths) that you can fulfill in any order. After fulfilling your first Oath, you must reveal your character.
  2. You and other players are given one of four different types of crisis at the beginning of the round.

    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.58.01 PM
    Different crisis types, from left to right: financial, civic, natural disaster, military
  3. You all collect Influence cards in accordance with Education and Wealth stats that you build up through various actions in game. (There’s also a Reputation stat that you’ll need to use guild abilities and gain benefits.)

    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.46.35 PM
    Player mat that represents your various stats. You must balance your Debt to Equity ratio of Wealth, which determines the max amount of Influence you may draw at the beginning of the round. Education represents how much of each type of Influence you may draw. Reputation is needed for to use guild abilities.
  4. Players vote with any number of their Influence cards on how to resolve a crisis. There are now four different types of Influence, as opposed to the original eight.

    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.56.45 PM
    The four different types of Influence that you use to vote on crisis outcomes
  5. Cards are shuffled and drawn one at a time until the draw limit is reached. (Starts at twice the number of players and increments one higher each round to a max of 20.)
  6. As cards are drawn, players can cancel out a vote (discard an Influence to cancel out the drawn Influence), which doesn’t count toward the draw limit. Canceled out Influence can’t be blocked.

    They can also replace an Influence, which does count toward the draw limit. Replaced Influence can also be replaced or canceled, though!

    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.46.49 PM
    Cancelations and replacements aid card
  7. Once the draw limit is reached, count the votes. Highest amount of Influence wins and players take actions in accordance with how the crisis was resolved.
  8. Here’s where it gets interesting: Crisis outcomes affect the four guilds in the game, not the players directly.
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.46.59 PM
    Track active crisis, draw limit (ignore “vote limit”), and see all resolution outomes
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.46.17 PM
    The Nation: track national Wealth, Injustices, Threats, and Education levels (all based on guild agendas). All of these are changed as a result of crisis outcomes and various other player initiated actions during the game

    Each guild has their own agenda. These actions may help or hurt you. It’s your job to exploit them or try and stop them. Join guilds to take advantage of their benefits and use their unique powers.

    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 1.46.30 PM
    Not finished yet and super messy, but here’s an example of some of the things you’ll need to balance when you join the Freedom Fighters. Depending on whether you want Education, Reputation, or Wealth; Corrected Injustices or forgotten ones; or various other things, you might want to join the Freedom Fighters to help them our hurt them!
  9. The first player to fulfill all of their Oaths wins!

It’s shaping up. I still need to work on the guild abilities. I’m hoping to have a new version to playtest tonight.

If it works, I’m going to hit the road and playtest it with strangers. I’ll also most certainly update my current print and play with the new version of the game.

Wow, so exciting. Will you look at the time, I’ve—

I finally created a mailing list through mailchimp.

I’m still not exactly sure how it all works but if you want to join my emailing list and receive updates on the game, add your email address through this form(I promise not to spam you with anything but these diary updates and other tidbits about the game.)

That’s awful. Or great. Full disclosure, I wasn’t listening. Anyway, nice chatting with you…

To digress for a moment.

Oh god, if you really do exist, prove it and take me now

I used to write often. Ever since I began work on Oath many, many moons ago (even before that: I worked on a Roman themes game for months, and then scrapped it to make Oath) I’ve dropped creative writing altogether. I’ve since picked it back up. I wrote one scifi short story that I entered in two contests, and boy let me tell you…it’s gone absolutely nowhere.

You don’t say

I’ve recently finished another scifi short story. Since they’re not really seeing the light of day right now, I’m going to give them both another extensive edit and polish. Then, I’m going to subject myself to the cold, dark tendrils of the Internet. I’ll likely create another site to host them on, but I may also add them to some of the popular writing share sites (wattpad,

My favorite part of your stories is when they’re over *hint hint*

Button Shy Games is challenging board game designers with creating a card game using only 18 cards that all must be identical.

I’ve got a few ideas that I’m floating around and playtesting. I don’t think I’m going to be able to get one finished in time to meet their deadline but the exercise has been great. Being able to design a lo-fi card game, print and craft the physical version, then playtest it and organically tweak mechanics all within the span of an hour has been exhilarating.

Whether I can finish the ideas in time for the contest or not, I’ll likely create print and play versions of them as a free download.

I got my ass kicked at my first public playtest

Finally! Is that why you haven’t written a post in forever?

I didn’t physically get my ass kicked.

Damn, you need a good whoopin’ though

I played a 1v1 of my latest game build against a volunteer play tester at a local event for board game designers to work out the kinks in their games. I got my ass kicked in two ways:

  1. I lost the game…the game that I made
  2. The play tester had a lot of feedback that has made me completely rethink my game

I think you should scrap making a board game and take up bare knuckle boxing

In terms of most types of testing, you typically want to test multiple times before deciding what needs to be changed. I believe that this play tester, who is an avid board game player and has no reason to pull their punches, had the ability to directly articulate the feedback that my friends and family (some of which aren’t hardcore board game players) have all been trying to provide me in one way or another.

I think the most helpful points of feedback were that they told me what they liked, as opposed to everything that they didn’t like. There were also things that I noticed during the playtest as well that I really wanted to change.

At points during the game, we were having fun and full of banter, at other times — I personally felt arrested. As if I could see every crack, every creaky plank, every squeaky wheel in my game but I had to keep playing.

What are you going to do about it? (Boxing is still on the table here)

Let me just lay out what they liked and what they disliked.

What they liked:

  • The blind auction-like voting
  • The currency and power manipulation
  • The hidden identity and hidden win conditions

What they didn’t like:

  • During the mid game, we both had more currency than we know what to do with
  • The veto mechanic and general power struggle was purely about who has at least one more coin than the other (especially so in a two-player game)
  • The guilds didn’t interact at all with one another
  • Aside form offering different types of tokens for purchase, the guilds weren’t distinct enough in their mechanics or thematic alignment — they mainly just seemed like means to an end
  • Crisis resolving seemed like a huge limiter in the game: Since they were random and the different types of crisis were extremely necessary for players to advance their win conditions, it was frustrating when a player had to wait forever until the next crisis type presented itself
  • The end seemed like a slog, like we were going through the motions
  • A lot of random elements, which lead to a lot of meaningless choices
  • When the play tester won, it was completely anti-climatic (there was an ability that they could easily exploit to win, which I couldn’t stop)

I repeat, what are you going to do about it?

First and foremost, I’m going to focus on what everyone likes. I’m going to remove four of the token types, leaving only four types of tokens in the game. I’m removing a direct monetary currency and replacing it with a far more intricate system of mechanics that involve general wealth, debt, reputation, and education. How players resolve crises will grant them all specific stats, which they can apply in a number of ways or trade in for a different type of stat. What types of stats they have and what guild their in will determine what combinations of tokens they’ll get.

I’m also opening it up such that every type of crisis can be solved in any way, and different outcomes occur depending on which token “wins” the draw.

Lastly, since there will no longer be coins that players spend to buy tokens or veto, I’m adding a four-way “paper, scissors, rock” style mechanic where players can cancel out or completely replace specific tokens during the draw. (Cancelled tokens are discarded, replaced tokens override the token drawn but can be replaced again!)

OK, OK — I get it…get back to work already

A lot of good things underway. My next build will definitely be a huge departure from the current one. But that’s how it should be after a good ass-kicking, right?