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.

The Lo-Fi Print and Play Version of My Game, Oath, is Ready for Download!

That image of the crab nebula has nothing to do with my game, but now that I have your attention:

I finally have a lo-fi print and play version of Oath ready.

You can download it here.

After playing, please consider taking this survey to help me understand what adjustments I need to make to the game.

Thank you for your support!

What I’ve Learned so far About Tabletop Design (Part I)

Full disclosure, I’ve been working on this game for a year and a half at this point and I’m still only about halfway finished. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not an experienced or veteran designer. I do not have the wise wealth of any published games under my belt.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to let my inner critic ask me questions for a multi-part article series as I divulge the major challenges I’ve faced so far as I navigate this odyssey of tabletop game design—take it away!

It’s a war of attrition

This is first and foremost for a reason. When you’re in it, you’re in it for the long haul. Remember up there where I stated that I’ve been working on this game for a year and some change and I’m still only about halfway through? I’m aware (albeit vaguely) of the challenges in store for me and I’m rushing to meet them.

What happens when you feel burnout?

It’s going to happen. It’s happened to me loads of times. It’ll happen to you. The worst that you can do when you feel burnout is feel like you’ve failed. Your mind will flood with harsh statements about your project—

Like that time I told you that your stories are lamer than your game?

Yes, that’s a great example of—

What about the time I said that experienced publishers actually somehow feel physical pain whenever you print a new prototype?

Yeah OK, I think—

Oh, and that time I mentioned that fact that you’re allowed to design a game is proof that there’s no god?

We get it! The point is that you might beat yourself up in order to make yourself hate your current game so that any other idea seems attractive. When that happens, take a short break and then set a time to come back. Make yourself come back to your game no later than two weeks from your break. Even if it’s just to look at your game and playtest.

For the 10 people who read this blog

I just want to say thank you. I appreciate anyone who reads this and hope that you get both enjoyment and helpful information from it.

So thank you!


I’m taking a short break from writing this and may consider easing back on my. Originally, I was able to push out an article once a week! But now, I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m heavily into developing my game and working on design/artwork as well as trying to organize playtesting cycles.

Finally, I knew you’d quit. It was just a matter of time

I’m not quitting! I’m just taking a break and then reducing my posting frequency.

I’m also trying to finish a short sci-fi story in time for an upcoming contest. (Wish me luck!)

Break a leg

I think you’re only supposed to say that to actors who are about to go on stage, right?

I know—I’m just stating my wish

Expect a new article in the last week of May.


The White Box Essays: A Recommended Buy

Jeremy Holcomb is a professor of game design any the DigiPen Institute of Technology. He has a wealth of experience with the full spectrum of idea-to-publish tabletop design. His insight is as paramount to the industry as the likes of the founders of “indie-giants” like Stonemaier and Leder Games. Enter The White Box Essays: a collection of pieces that shine a light on every aspect of game design.

You mean, “step 1” make game “step 2” play game?

It’s a little more complicated than that. From ideation to prototyping and playtesting cycles, to how you might go about settling on theme, complexity, mechanics, and most importantly: the emotional charge of the player interactions that you want to cultivate in your game—The White Box Essays has think pieces on most of the facets of critical thought on making your tabletop game strong.

Sounds like you forked over money for things that you could google

This book is also critical on some of the more controversial topics in board games, like inclusion and diversity. It invites designers to think about who they might be inadvertently excluding from their game.

  • Is the artwork diverse and inclusive of all peoples of the world?
  • Could the theme of your game potentially be offensive to some people?
  • How accessible is your game for people (e.g. the hard of seeing, hearing, or colorblind people who might want to play)?

These are questions that I weigh heavily as I develop my game. These are also all topics that most of the other big names in game design (some of whom I’ve mentioned above) are library volume levels of quiet on.

Taking no stance on encouraging more diversity in your community is, in my opinion, just as bad as opposing it.

Even doing simple things, like following people on twitter who are of a different race, sexual orientation, gender, and who are in a different geographical location than you are can help you understand a different voice. This makes your thematic storytelling more interesting at the least, at the most it helps welcome other intelligent people into a community that desperately needs it. (Can we not have another “middle eastern traveling merchant” themed market game?)

So you’re recommending that I buy a book, that’s the worst board game ever!

You also do get some generic assets which may come in handy when designing your game. I’d like this point, though:

Don’t buy The White Box for the assets, buy it for the White Box Essays it contains.

You can find almost all of these assets for a lot better price point and in greater bulk at your neighborhood board game store or on amazon.

Regardless, here’s what you get in the white box:

  • The White Box Essays, a book of 25 essays on game design and production
  • 3 counter sheets with 71 pre-printed and 49 blank counters (chits)
  • 150 small wooden cubes in six colors
  • 36 wooden meeples in six colors
  • 6 giant wooden cubes in six colors (this one’s actually a little harder to find)
  • 12 six-sided dice in six colors
  • 110 plastic disks in eight colors

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Jeremy Holcomb, Atlas Games, Gameplaywright, or any other company or individual responsible for creating The White Box or any associated product to it.

Link to purchase The White Box.