New Tuck Boxes from DriveThruCards!


Tuckboxes are now live for I Can't Even With These Monsters and Curse You, Robin Hood! When you're in the checkout page, just select the third option for the item. It's entirely optional as always, but they look great. Here's a quick tour of their features!


First off, the print quality is great as always. The print is smooth, the colors are vibrant, and the consistency is top notch.


When you take a closer look, you'll notice this seam along the edges of one of the panels. This is because these boxes use no glue in their construction. They're entirely secured with folds and flaps. This has the additional benefit of making the box very rigid and sturdy.


When you open the box, you'll see the deck of cards you ordered without the usual order # card or cellophane band that comes with no-box or plastic box decks.


The rear hinge of the top lid needs a crease here to open properly, which is why I designed the back of my box to be on this panel. I set up the info bar to be just above that crease so it looks more intentional. I also made sure not to put any important text along this crease.


Here's a close-up of the inside of the box, showing one other benefit of this construction. Unlike typical tuckboxes, there's no bottom flap sticking up, pushing against the cards. It makes returning the cards to the box an easy breeze.


This big interior flap is the key to the whole box's construction. That flap sticking into the side a bit creates a gentle pressure against the deck keeping it nice and snug.


And that's a quick overview of the new tuck boxes! I hope you dig them!

Two New Card Games on Sale!

Hello, all! These are the first two card games I'm self-publishing in over a year and I'm mighty proud of them.

Curse You, Robin Hood! is a rowdy pub-style card game where you're merchants in Sherwood Forest trying to get as rich as possible. The only problem is that if you're the richest in a particular type of good, Robin Hood will steal it all from you. Different legendary characters will also join your game, introducing the basics of bluffing and negotiation to new players without getting in the way of gameplay. I really love the art by Molly Ostertag.

» Buy it here: Curse You, Robin Hood!

» Watch the video tutorial here:

I Can't Even With These Monsters is the first game in the I Can't Even series. In these games, there's one major rule: Only the highest odd-numbered score will win the game. Even if four players have 22, 20, 18, and 3 points respectively, the player with 3 points will win. This edition introduces the basic concepts with seven fun monsters illustrated by Charles Andrew Bates.

Buy it here: I Can't Even With These Monsters

Watch the video tutorial here:

SPX 2016 Overview

Howdy folks! I just got back from SPX 2016, the convention focused on independent and small press comics creators. Back in 2014 I briefly mentioned SPX as a great source for artistic talent. Last year I described the parallels between the indie comics and the tabletop game design communities.

This year I'm just exhausted, so here's a link to the pinterest board of artists I met at the hall. Most of these artists said they were available for freelance assignments, so if you're a publisher or art director looking for new talent, check them out!

A brief overview of my exp at the show:
  • Fri: Toured the comics vault at Library of Congress. Saw a lovely Harrison Cady piece. Talked sci-fi movies with new friends. Then hauled boxes around the hall for set up.
  • Sat: Line mgmt duty. Met The Adventure Zine artists. Saw the Ignatz Awards. Danced at (and evacuated from) the SPX prom.
  • Sun: Mostly special duty. Saw @careydraws on Magical Girls panel! Then teardown, lifting, hauling. Alas, too tired to play Magic. Happy tho!
  • Mon: Silver Diner breakfast with smart folks talking about creative life and work.

And now I must sleep a week.

▶️ Highlight Key Words with Custom Tags in InDesign [Card at Work: 15]

Laying out a card game but your team members don't have indesign? Spreadsheets don't keep character formatting either, so that's no help. How can your team call out key words for you to style? Custom tags!

Using a library of customized plain text tags makes it easy to know which words need to be styled a particular way. By setting up a few simple GREP styles in InDesign, those tags will automatically highlight and style those key words like magic. All you have to do is merge the records in DataMerge as usual and InDesign does the rest of the work for you.

Hope you find this useful! Support more videos at!

Wireframe Card Designs for Patrons

New goodies for all my patrons! I had a request for some wireframe card designs for different types of games, so here's a test batch for you. These are available in EPS, JPG and an IDML file. Hope you find these useful! If you'd like to see more, please comment on the Patreon post here. Thanks!

Chess Terrain Cards?

This was a silly little product I was mulling a while back. It's too goofy for abstract players and too abstract for goofy players. So, probably just right for my sensibilities. :)

It's deck of cards with 2x3 grid of spaces. Eight cards arranged as shown above would make the middle six rows of a chess board. Each player's home row is implied by the dotted lines. You'd set up a standard chess game and play on this modular board, using the special effects on the spaces shown above.

This is obviously designed for chess, but could easily combo with the transparent card abstract game I posted as well. It's one of those little ideas that's not really marketable at anything but a niche scale, but I probably great for a POD product. It's been a long time since I've released any new product and the longer the hiatus, the more pressure I feel to make the next one really special. Perhaps instead I should just focus on these sorts of silly ideas.

What do you think?

Poker Auction Alpha Prototype

Lately I've been thinking about designing card decks that act as supplements for a standard deck of playing cards you already have at home. The idea is that with one of these supplements and a deck of playing cards, you'd have a deep and extremely portable strategy game in your favorite genre. Auction games, area control games, etc.

First up, a poker auction game. The idea here is that you could play out an auction using poker hands instead of money. I liked the idea that instead of a 1:1 ratio of dollars to bidding power, a poker hand could have an unpredictable bidding power.

To get the alpha on the table as soon as possible, I just cannibalized a first edition of Sushi Go as a placeholder set of set collection cards. I also grabbed a Hocus deck since it had a convenient summary of poker hands. With the Game Designers of North Carolina, we play stormed the following game:

Remove the chopsticks from the Sushi Go deck. Shuffle it together and deal out five lots of three random Sushi Go cards each, lined up in a row. Shuffle the poker deck. Each player begins with a random hand of five poker cards.

One lot goes up for auction at a time, starting from the front of the line. Each player takes turns bidding or passing on it.

Bid: Lay a valid poker set as a bid in front of you. (The lowest bid is "High Card," a single card.) You may instead add a card or cards to your existing bid. These new cards may raise the bid to a better poker set or be a "kicker." In either case, your new bid must be the strongest bid on the table. If it is not, then you must pass.

  • A kicker is a card that is not technically part of a poker set, but will break ties between two poker hands of equal strength. For example, of you bid a High Card of 8, then Matt bids an 8, and Ruth also bids an 8, you can then add a 4 to your bid. If no one else can add a higher card to their bid as a kicker, or make their card a stronger poker set, then you would win the auction.

Pass: Draw a card from the deck. You're now out of the round.

Once all but one player has passed, the player who has the strongest poker set wins the lot. If two or more players have equally strong bids, they cancel each other out and the next strongest bid wins the lot.

When you win a lot, its cards go into your tableau. The winner discards their bid cards. Anyone else returns their bid to their hands.

The hand limit is nine cards total, so at this point you must discard down to nine if necessary.

Then the next lot in line goes up for auction, following the procedures described above. This continues for each of the five lots. After the fifth lot is won, that round is over.

All sets but the Puddings score at the end of the round, if able. If any of your cards score, they must be discarded. If any of your cards do not score, you can keep those cards in your tableau going into the next round.

To begin a new round, deal five new lots for the next round. Players keep all of their poker cards in their hand going into the next round. Play one round per player.

The game ends after one round for each player. The player with the most points wins.

GDofNC recommended that instead of a poker deck the game could use a Pairs deck.

If a Pairs deck, then the auction winner would be whoever plays the largest set of matching cards. If tied, whoever played the lower ranked set wins. That seemed easier than figuring out poker hands. It also makes a nice balance in a Pairs deck as more common cards are powerful as a group, but less powerful individually.

While certainly more accessible, I'm still not sure if a Pairs deck has the versatility of a poker deck though. It also means departing from this little conceit that started this whole idea in the first place. Perhaps that's one darling I should drop right away, but I'd like to give it a shot one more time.

Translating Sports to Tabletop Mechanics [Design]

Men's Pole Vault

It's Olympics season and I've been particularly fascinated with the game design behind the rules and formats for each sport. Here are some quick notes about how they might translate if they were rules for a tabletop game.

Modern Pentathlon has a fencing round where the lowest ranked fencer duels the second-lowest. Whoever wins moves on to duel the next lowest. This continues with the winner of each duel climbing the ranks and the loser being removed from that round and earning points accordingly. I could see a Magic: the Gathering tournament being formatted like this as a casual event.

Miss and Out Cycling has a large group of cyclists on a track doing laps around the course, but the last cyclist to cross the finish line is eliminated from that race. Laps continue in this manner, with more cyclists being eliminated. This is more or less how Get Bit works, replacing individual racers with 5 hit points for each player.

Olympic Diving has 7 scores from judges kept separate from one another, then the highest and lowest two scores are ignored, the remaining scores are multiplied by the difficulty level. It's a bit convoluted, but I could see something like this in an early Euro sort of game.

Volleyball has an interesting combination of racing mechanics and tennis victory. There are some variations, but generally each round of play may only end after a team has X points. Once a team has a point difference of Y points over their opponent, they win the round. This might lead to some extended games at the table, but I'd love to see a 2p abstract formatted like this.

Pole Vault has a classic push-your-luck mechanism. The difficulty is raised (literally) throughout the game, then players must decide to pass or attempt the vault. Three missed attempts eliminates the player. This reminds me a lot of Welcome to the Dungeon, but it might work with any push-your-luck tabletop game.

Cool stuff! Any other Olympics games you think might translate to tabletop mechanisms?

Belle of the Ball - Second Edition Rulebook and Errata Feedback

Hello party people! I'm happy to show you the Belle of the Ball second edition rulebook and some of the card errata. We wanted to get public feedback before going to print, especially from fans and owners of the original edition.

Here's a link to the rulebook for your review.

I'll keep that PDF updated as folks find typos or errors. We're looking for feedback before August 19, 2016 ideally. There's a teeny bit of wiggle room on that deadline, but not much.


In the basic game, start each player with one random Belle card.
Swap step 1 and 2 so players can use a Belle card on the same turn it was acquired. No more waiting a full round to use it.

Remove step 3. Instead, your group scores immediately when it is full, even if it’s not your turn. This might clean up a few of the awkward bits of explanation for new players. Now it’s clear that if it’s on the table, it can be added to. This also is more merciful to players who get a full group before it’s their turn when the game ends.

The rules now state that a county power is used as if it were a Belle card, during step 2 of a players’ turn.

5-player rules are now incorporated into the standard and advanced game modes, not as a separate variant.

What was formerly the 5-player variant is now renamed “Shindig Variant,” highlighting its more chaotic play style.

For detailed errata list and changes to the cards, see the live doc at the link below.


County Cards

CHANGE: Dismiss a Belle card (and its regrets) from the line.
TO: Discard a Belle card from the line. Take its regrets.

CHANGE: After scoring a group, keep one of the guests in your party.
TO: If you scored a group, keep one of those guest cards in your party in that group’s space.



CHANGE: When scoring a group, earn double points from each of these interests: [[ICONS HERE]].
TO: Score 2 points for each of these interests in one of your groups: [[ICONS HERE]]


CHANGE: Dismiss a guest card (and its regrets) from the line.
TO: Discard a guest card from the line. Take its regrets.

CHANGE: When taking a card, you may take one more, following normal rules.
TO: You may take one more card from the same line you took a card this turn, following normal rules.

CHANGE: Use this power as a substitute for spending one regret.
TO: Take a guest card from the top of the deck. Turn it face-down. It is now a regret in your supply.

CHANGE: Move one of your guests to another one of your groups.
TO: Move one of your guest cards to one of your other groups.

CHANGE: Swap a guest in your party for a guest from the line.
TO: Swap a guest card in your party for a guest from the line. (Any regrets in the line remain in place.)

CHANGE: Force a player to score (and dismiss) one of their groups of your choice.
TO: Force a player to score and discard one of their groups of your choice.

Belle Cards

The Belle seems to be Everywhere
CHANGE: Add this card to an opponent’s group.
TO: Discard this card from your hand.

The Belle Welcomes the Lords
ADD TO END: (Lords have “Lord” in their name and have a blue background.)

The Belle Welcomes the Ladies
ADD TO END: (Ladies have “Lady” in their name and have a purple background.)

The Belle Makes Room
CHANGE: This group scores when it has seven cards.
TO: This group is considered full when it has seven cards, not four.

The Belle slips a VIP Pass
DELETE: This counts as your invitation.

The Belle finds a Secret Entrance
DELETE: This counts as your invitation.

The Belle wants a Classy Party
ADD TO END: (Ladies have “Lady” in their name and have a purple background. Lords have “Lord” in their name and have a blue background.)

The Belle Keeps Things Casual
ADD TO END: (Ladies have “Lady” in their name and have a purple background. Lords have “Lord” in their name and have a blue background.)

The Belle is feeling Rushed
ADD TO END: (Full groups are scored at the end of their owners’ turn.)

The Bell says Vive la Difference!
CHANGE: Difference
TO: Différence
ADD TO END: (In other words, score 1 point for each unique icon in this group.)

Trying Some Racing Game Key Terms. Are they clear?

Holiday Snap 2: Tron

After playing Wolfgang Kramer's Top Race the other day, I'm thinking about racing games again. In Top Race, each card moves several colored cars through the track as far forward as possible. Because you're betting on the race results as well as controlling your own car, you're still invested in the outcome even if your car is trailing behind. Controlling opponent's cars is very valuable and fun way to stay engaged throughout the game, which is a common problem in racing games.

I got to thinking about how to capture that same versatility and engagement with a card-driven racing game without the betting element. One way I thought about was using conditional positions instead of specific colors. For example, say I establish these key terms.

  • You: A car or cars you control.
  • Straggler: The car in last place.
  • Leader: The car in first place.
  • Chaser: The car in second-place.
  • Follower: The car immediately behind your car.
  • Pacer: The car immediately ahead of your car.

The cards would list a series of actions that must be resolved in that order. Each action moves the indicated car forward a number of spaces on the track. For example:

You: 3-6
Leader: 1-2

You: 3-4
Straggler: 6

Pacer: 1-2
You: 4
Follower: 1

Leader: 1
You: 2
Chaser: 3

Each action is resolved in order, so you could use a card in some fun power moves.

  • For example, if you played BURST! to put yourself in first-place, then you are the Leader, therefore you could move 1-2 extra spaces.
  • If you play COMEBACK! and you're still in last place, then you could give yourself a huge sprint of +6 spaces forward.
  • If you play PUSH! to put yourself in second-place, then you're the Chaser and can move yourself an extra 3 spaces.

My main concern at this point is that it's too confusing to make up game terms for these positions or if there are already real-world racing terms for these positions. If you're aware of any or have suggestions for more clear alternatives, please share!

Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.