DSGN PNCH - A short series of short graphic design videos

I'm trying out something a little different for this series. I want to break down the big giant scary subject of graphic design into the tiniest possible pinches so they're a little less intimidating. I don't know how long this series will last, I only have a few topics lined up so far:

  • Which colors are best to avoid color-blindness issues?
  • How do I lay out light text on a dark background?
  • What's a good font size?

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Testing Updates to Monsoon Market

I'm in the process of updating Monsoon Market to make it more suitable for publisher pitches. I still enjoy this little game, but a few wrinkles have shown more prominently over the years of feedback and I am taking this opportunity to smooth them out.

Check out the current live rules doc here.

There haven't been any changes to the cards themselves, so if you own a POD copy already you're still good. It's mainly procedural tweaks and streamlining.

  • Bonus Goods are spent, no longer permanent. When you spend a good, you note its expenditure by upgrading the Order to silver.
  • Replenish the Market or Orders display at the end of your turn instead of immediately.
  • You only get Bonus Actions if you fulfill an Order at Gold or Silver accuracy.
  • The game ends immediately when someone achieves the point threshold, but you can adjust that threshold for longer games.

Hope you get a chance to test these changes at home and offer your feedback! Thanks for your support!

📹 Watch: How to play Kodama: the Tree Spirits

I'm so honored to see Rodney Smith teach how to play Kodama: the Tree Spirits. He really sets the standard for all other video tutorials for clarity, brevity, and thoroughness. Check out the video embedded above to see Rodney teach the game far better than I could. :D

UnPub6 Feedback for "Curse You, Robin Hood!"

Wow, I'm finally starting to recover from the wild pace of preparing for UnPub. I had two games I was primarily showing, the main one being Curse You, Robin Hood! You can find the full rules for the game on this Google Doc. Overall the response was very good and I made some procedural tweaks after several tests that really streamlined the game significantly.  Check out the scores and responses out of 28 feedback forms. I've bolded some of the more representative comments as well.

(Image Source: Lauren Woolsey)

Was this game predictable?
No 100%
Yes 0%

Will you play this game again?
No 10.71%
Yes 89.29%

Will you buy this game?
(The responses to this question had a lot of "YESNO" responses, so I think there was something wrong with the form. In either case, the results were inconclusive.)

What was one thing you would change?
  • Maybe the option to add the AI with 6+ players
  • nothing comes to mind
  • art
  • Some of the suits look a little similar and get a little confusing at first
  • Nothing in particular
  • Maybe add in some Trump cards that can mess up other players.
  • The game is really easy to learn, but having a quick-reference card for each player that described the order of card-swapping would help a lot.
  • Better instructions or not sure I understood the bartering
  • Find some way to encourage players to arrange deals more. You may want to include a reference card to explain the resolution order
  • Clearer explanation of when I would barter with other players.
  • Nothing
  • N/A
  • Nothing.
  • The exchange system is completely blind. Maybe there could be a way for players to have a card to always go to market.
  • It looks ready.
  • Use characters
  • nothing
  • Rolling scoring option for longer play
  • Not really sure. I found the game to be pretty well balanced
  • This game is well thought out. I would not change anything.
  • Nothing
  • Nothing
  • Something to help me learn the why behind my choices quicker.
  • Nothing!
  • Nothing.
  • Not sure...strategy was hard for me, but I\'m not sure how to make it better
  • change six back to a number
  • Make icons a bit bigger

What was your favorite part of the game?
  • unpredictability
  • card options to play
  • attempting to guess other players possible selections
  • The "solitaire" aspect, ease of learning
  • The art is fantastic, it's a great original idea for a game and a really interesting mechanic. I'm excited to buy it when it's available!
  • The trading and negotiating
  • The fact that there's no downtime!
  • How quick it was
  • the robin hood targeting mechanic is implemented in a very clever way. the forced trades made for surprising results.
  • Fast play. Creativity typing into the Robin Hood theme. Ability to play single to 6 player
  • I love the whole concept.
  • Ability to play up to 6 players. Great for our gaming group!
  • The swapping mechanic.
  • That robin hood always steals from the highest target.
  • You never 100% control which card you will receive at time of card selection. Game allows for different social dynamics to make the game play differently.
  • The bluffing
  • being able to mess with other players
  • Varying random hands (Tuck, etc)
  • Trying to outwit the other players at the table and get the specific card you're looking for in the market
  • This is another game I would love to play with kids because it's easy enough to pick up but also allows for players to try to manipulate the game with what cards you throw into the center.
  • Mexhan (The rest of this form looked pretty broken, so I assume it's some bug?)
  • The additional player card
  • Great art, fun "yes" or "no" moments.
  • That the gameplay made you need to say "Curse You, Robin Hood!"
  • The balance of targets to points.
  • Loved the theme, loved the art, loved the idea
  • never knowing what was coming next
  • Trying to figure out who would wind up with which card

Additional Comments
  • I liked it as is, but could love it with a little more player control though I\'m not sure how to implement it.
  • would buy this today if it were available

Overall pretty good results! We'll see where it goes from here, but I'm pretty happy with letting this game be the fast, wild, rowdy tavern game it wants to be. :)

Game Designers of North Carolina at UnPub!

Come to UnPub in Baltimore this weekend, where you can find me and a bunch of other game designers demoing our latest creations. Details are at the UnPub site. I'm at table 3G, right by the feedback area.

I'll be bringing a lot of prototypes in various states of development, but the big headlines are Koi Pond Second Edition and Curse You, Robin Hood!

Hope to see you there!

Card at Work: 9 - Making a 3x3 Card Sheet

Howdy! Looks like I forgot to post the latest episodes of Card at Work to the ol' blog here. Sorry about that! For new folks, Card at Work is my video series covering the basics of designing cards for tabletop games.

I figured, what could be more appropriate for Episode 9 than to talk about making 3x3 card sheets? :) Check it out at the video above.

The previous episode covered variable front-and-back card designs.

Thanks for watching! I hope you find these videos useful. Support more videos at my Patreon!

Watch Action Phase Games demo Kodama: the Tree Spirits at GAMA [Starts 1:56:55]

Action Phase is at GAMA this year promoting their line of really cool games, including my own Kodama: the Tree Spirits! Check out the recorded Livestream at the link above or click here. Starting at 1:56:55, you can watch Nick Little and Eric Martin from BoardGameGeek talk about the history of the game's development and design. It's really cool!

You can pre-order the base game from Action Phase directly here or the deluxe edition here.

As an added bonus, you can see them enthusiastically discussing Trickster right after that demo!

6 Games I'm bringing to UnPub 6!

Unpub 6 is in just under a month! I'm bringing almost all of my self-published games to pitch and present, but here are 6 games I'd like to highlight in particular. You may have seen my last post on the subject of "sale sheets" or "summary sheets", but I've since expanded this to a whole series of at-a-glance summaries for handing out to publishers.

Curse You, Robin Hood!
You’re a merchant of Sherwood Forest trying to get rich while dodging those thieving Merry Men. Get as much treasure as possible, but not so much that Robin Hood notices you as a target!

Koi Pond
A zenlike, fast-flowing card game. Collect colorful koi fish and keep your pond as balanced as possible.

Monsoon Market
In 1405, a Chinese emissary sails the Indian Ocean, reporting the quality of each market along the way. It’s time to get busy! Earn a reputation for accurate orders or rush off any old goods in bulk. It’s a race to earn the fastest fortune in the Monsoon Market!

A La Kart
Food fighters, hit the road! Bump karts out of your way with Pasta Shells! Blast ahead with a Mushzoom! Baste the track with an Olive Oil Spill! Taste sweet victory while rivals eat your dust!

Tractor Pull (Co-design with Matt Everheart)
It’s time for the Tri-County Triple-Rope Tug-of-War! Lead your team of scrappy vehicles against your rival in three unique arenas! Beware the crooked refs! Pull the most ropes to win the match. Win two out of three matches to become champion!

Light Rail
A new age of rail empire dawns in the near future! Barons vie for ownership of a mega-city’s growing commuter network. Claim routes that connect as many different districts as possible and fulfill lucrative contracts.

You can find PDF versions of all these sheets in this dropbox folder. Hope to see you at UnPub!

Resizing a Hardcover Design [Patreon Sample]

Hello All!

Aside from my Card at Work videos available for the general public, I've been recording more of my real-world process as I work through various design problems with actual projects.  This time the session was short enough and the project simple enough that I thought it would be a good example of a typical recording:

In this session, I had to resize the cover of Do: Fate of the Flying Temple to new hardcover specs. However, the current dimensions were waaay different than the new dimensions provided by the printer. This video covers a few different photoshop techniques to make the resize as seamless as possible without losing any resolution.

- Layer Effects
- Gradient Layer Masks
- Layer Groups with Layer Effects

That's just this session. The other videos go into more detail about advanced InDesign techniques for even more real-world projects.  The entire archive of real-time sessions are available to all $10+ patrons.

I hope you find them useful! Please share freely! Thanks so much!

Card at Work: 7 — Designing a CCG Template, Part 2

Yay! Here's the conclusion of the 2-part lesson in designing a CCG-style prototype card template. I hope you find this useful as I discuss inserting variable icon images into inline variable text, among other useful little tricks.

The next series of videos will cover a few miscellaneous lessons like how to set up 3x3 card sheets and make variable lines separating sections of body text. Then we'll go into a deeper case study of how I designed the cards for an early version of A La Kart.

Hope you enjoy the videos! Please support the series at Patreon!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.