About this project
Otters is a 10-minute card game for kids (ages 6 and up) and otter-loving adults. It's a deck of 53 custom cards, with photos of otters, lakes and an ornery alligator.
The basic Otters game is for 2 players, or for 2 teams of 2 players each. If you have two decks, you can play with 3-4 individual players (two-deck games take about 20 minutes instead of 10).
The goal of Otters is to win the most valuable collection of lake playgrounds. There are 3 playground cards face-up on the table, each of which has a value between 2 and 10.
On your turn, you will send your otters to play at the lakes. Play 2 cards from your hand, either both to the same playground or to 2 different playgrounds. Check to see if the total number of otters at any of the playgrounds is at least as high as the playground's value; if so, you win that playground!
When you're done, draw until you have 4 cards in your hand, and put new playgrounds on the board if needed so that there are always 3 lakes.
Once all the playgrounds have been won, add up the value of your playgrounds, plus 5 bonus points if you collected three of a particular color lake. The player with the most points wins!
I created Otters because I was shocked that I couldn't find any games that were themed around these adorable creatures! I've liked otters since I watched Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas as a kid, and I completely fell in love with them the first time I saw some playful river otters during a visit to an aquarium as an adult.
In November 2013, I decided to make Otters my National Game Design Month (NaGaDeMon) project. I wanted to make a game with lots of pictures of cute otters, and I wanted it to be accessible to kids but also fun for adults.
For inspiration, I looked at the excellent game Smash Up! from AEG. I liked the mechanics of playing cards from your hand to one of several different location cards on the board, but I wanted something less complicated.
Thus, I spent November trying different mechanics, playtesting, getting feedback, finding photos (all Creative Commons licensed), hiring a graphic designer (the talented Dane Ault) and putting it all together.
Ultimately, I used DriveThruCards to print up Otters decks to send to reviewers plus some extras to have on hand for the "Speedy" rewards here on Kickstarter. And now here we are on Kickstarter together!
Lots of reviewers have copies of Otters in their hands. Here's what they have to say:
Forrest Bower of Bower's Game Corner (video review): "If you have kids ages 5 to 10, you should get Otters; it's as simple as that. It is a fantastic, absolutely outstanding children's game."
Randy Hoyt of Foxtrot Games: "We got our copy and played tonight. My 6 year old [Garrett Hoyt] said, 'That was awesome! Let's play again!'"
Mark Meredith of Dice Monkey: "The strategy is actually very deep, it's just subtle, which I liked a lot... It's a great game I can play with [my 5-year old son]... I highly recommend it."
Tony McRee of the Rolling Dice and Taking Names podcast: "Otters is a game that is fun to play, starts children down the road to understanding game strategy and has really awesome pictures."
Jonathan Liu of GeekDad: "As soon as you try Otters [...] you’ll wonder how you’ve gone so long without adorable photos of otters on all your cards."
I've kept the rewards for Otters as simple as I can. This is a humble campaign!
You can get one Otters deck (good for 2 players or 2 partnerships) for a $12 pledge (US shipping included), and you can add more decks for $9 apiece. If you get two decks, you can play with 3-4 players, so pledge $21 if you want that option. These will be shipped when the post-Kickstarter print run is complete.
There are also some "Speedy" rewards available for a few dollars more ($15 pledge in the US). I already have these decks in hand (leftover from the review copies I ordered) and will ship them right after the Kickstarter campaign concludes. Extra "Speedy" decks are $9, so pledge $24 if you want the 3-4 player game quickly.
The game components for Otters consist of a custom deck of 53 cards:
- 12 of the 1-otter cards
- 12 of the 2-otter cards
- 8 of the 3-otter cards
- 9 of the special 1-otter cards (3 "play the top card of the deck", 3 "play an extra card", and 3 "move an otter")
- 3 of the Alligator cards (which prevent other otters from coming to play until it leaves)
- 9 playground cards (3 each of 3 different colored lakes)
There are also three instruction cards, for a total of 56 cards in the box.
It all comes in a handy-dandy (but humble) box with an adorable label on the front - hand-assembled by me!
Add-on reward: Custom bag
If you think, "A simple box is nice, but wouldn't it be cool to carry my game in a custom Otters bag?" then you're in luck!
I've contracted with Joelle Burdette of Sparkle J Designs to make beautiful, sturdy draw-string bags (typically used as dice bags) available for Otters backers who want them. These are more than large enough to carry multiple Otters decks (4 inches by 4 inches on the bottom, 6.5 inches tall).
If you would like to add one or more custom Otters bags to your pledge, just increase your pledge by $12 for each bag that you would like to add. (I'll be sending a survey after the campaign ends where you can tell me how many decks and how many bags you pledged for).
Shipping in the US is included for free in all pledges.
For international shipping, there is an additional fee that reflects the extra cost for me to send Otters outside the US. The extra $8 covers the extra shipping cost no matter how many copies of Otters you pledge for.
Hoo boy - we hit the $1,000 funding goal on the first day! Time to talk about how we might be able to make Otters even better - together.
$3,000 - More otters - ACHIEVED!
We made it! Since we hit the $3,000 stretch goal, this means that all of the Regular Otters decks will have more otters in them!
Rather than having the same photo for each of the 1 Otter cards and the same photo for each of the 2 Otter cards, etc., we will now have unique otter photos on every card! (The three special otter cards will still use identical photos, just to help kids learn that the cards that look the same work the same.)
Credit for these awesome photos: Tambako the Jaguar, Paul Stevenson, Steven Zolneczko, Peter G. Trimming, Jay Gooby, Bruin Ramsdell, Rich Tea, Lutrimania, Andrew Nesbitt, Monkeywing, Christine Matthews, Scott Campbell, Andrea Westmoreland, John Magnus, Jane Belinda Smith, E. Lee Photography, Tom Harpel, Mike Baird, Thomas Marriott, Stephen Candy Photography and Donald W DeLoach Jr.
$4,000 - Printed rule sheet - ACHIEVED!
The printer I'm using, DriveThruCards, does not have the option of including printed rule sheets, so the original copies of the game I printed had the rules on cards.
I would love to have the rules on an actual rule sheet, allowing me to include a setup diagram, for instance. And since I'm hand-assembling the games in boxes, I can stick a rule sheet in there, too.
This stretch goal has been reached! This means that backers who want a printed rule sheet can have one (I'll be asking about this in the post-campaign backer surveys), but everyone will still get the rule cards. And furthermore, everyone can download the final rules PDF right now!
I'm Michael Iachini. I'm the one-man-shop that is Clay Crucible Games. I live in Colorado with my wife and four cats. No otters, sadly - but we do have squirrels in our back yard.
My first foray into game design was with Chaos & Alchemy, a card-and-dice game that I self-published in a small print run in 2012. Chaos & Alchemy was picked up by a publisher called Game Salute for a big run on Kickstarter in 2013. Look for Chaos & Alchemy from Game Salute soon!
If you would like to talk to me, you can do so in lots of ways:
- On Kickstarter via the Ask A Question button at the bottom of this page
- If you're a backer you can leave a comment in the Comments section of this Kickstarter campaign (even if you just back for a dollar)
- You can find me on Twitter as @ClayCrucible
- You can find me on Facebook as Clay Crucible Games
- You can even email me directly at ClayCrucible@gmail.com
The biggest thing you can do to support Otters is, of course, pledging right here to get a copy of your own!
And of course, you can tell any of your friends who you think might like Otters to come here and check it out.
Thank you all so much!
- Game design: Michael Iachini (that's me!)
- Graphic design / logo / file layout: Dane Ault
- Otter 1 photo: Paul Stevenson
- Otter 2 photo: Steven Zolneczko
- Otter 3 photo: Tambako the Jaguar
- Otter "extra card" photo: Peter G Trimming
- Otter "top card of deck" photo: Tambako the Jaguar
- Otter "move a card" photo: Jay Gooby
- Alligator photo: John Magnus
- Pink playground photo: Jane Belinda Smith
- Green playground photo: E. Lee Photography
- Orange playground photo: Tom Harpel
- Playtesting: Barbara Iachini, Nate Heiss, Alicia Harwood and family, the patrons of Enchanted Grounds coffeehouse and gameporium
Risks and challenges
The design work for Otters is complete. The manufacturer, DriveThruCards, is ready to go with printing a full run of the game (I've already had them print a small run for review copies and the "Speedy" rewards). If I have the funding from my wonderful backers, I can order a larger run from the printer, add the packaging, and ship the games to you! I'm very pleased that $1,000 will be enough for me to get this larger print run from DriveThruCards and to get it shipped to you.
I've published and shipped a game already, with the first run of Chaos & Alchemy in 2012, so I have a good idea of what to expect from ordering decks, packaging them up, and getting them shipped out.
I suppose if I'm hit by a bus, that would delay things. Let's hope that doesn't happen. :-) But if anything comes up to slow me down, I have my wife and friends to help with the shipping of the games to you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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