My daughter wanted me to make her a game with ladybugs and butterflies—cute, right? However, I needed to find a way to get her older brothers to play the game too. While we were testing this game one night, my son made my daughter cry and that’s when I knew I had something. You see, my sweet little girl was having the time of her life—collecting most of the ladybugs and doing a great job avoiding the stink bugs. Then it happened, she made a small error and my son made her collect the centipede, a devastating insect to have in your collection. She was upset and during the scoring round was starting to feel better when she realized that she would still win because she had collected the caterpillar AND the butterfly (nice bonus)! Then, with a sly grin, my son did it again; he used the locust and traded one of his stink bugs for her caterpillar—no more bonus as her points dropped to zero. I taught my daughter a valuable lesson that night: you can’t always win, even at your own game. She has since learned to play the game with greater tactics and has taken her brothers down many times with smiles and laughter.
For a year, we referred to this game as “Ladybugs”. We’ve played the game hundreds of times and several people were involved from ages 7 to 50. During this time the game progressed through six significant versions. I spent several months illustrating every card by hand and April was always right there with me drawing her own versions of each card. All illustrations and game play rules are complete, including the first five expansions. The only thing remaining is manufacturing. Kickstarter funds will go towards reproduction and shipping costs. The game consists of a tuck box and 52 playing cards. The rules are available as a downloadable PDF.
The game play mechanics are simple. It's a collecting game that involves 52 cards of mostly insects and other creatures of the yard. It's for ages 8 and up and is for 3–5 players. What makes this game unique and different from your average trick taking game is that you don't just add your points up when all cards have been played. There's a damage phase that takes place during the scoring and certain cards (or bugs) will eat other bugs. There are so many different combinations of scoring that can happen depending on what you collect. Another element that makes this unique are the PLAY cards. There are two cards that are never collected; instead they will affect game play. The Giant Toad is one such card. If the Giant Toad ends up in the pile that you're collecting, it stays in front of you and must be fed on subsequent turns that you collect. After all the cards have been played, the PLAY cards must be removed and not collected.
The Ladybug is the primary source for points and there are 13 in the game numbered 1–13. The number represents their rank, not their point value. They're each worth 2 points.
Katydids are the secondary source for points and there are also 13 of these numbered 1–13. If you collect these without collecting Ladybugs then they're worth 1 point each, otherwise they score 1 point per pair, so 3 Katydids would be worth only one point with Ladybugs present, or 3 points with no Ladybugs.
Stink Bugs naturally prey on Ladybugs. So for each Stink Bug you collect, it'll eat one Ladybug. If you have more Stink Bugs than Ladybugs, then you simply lose all Ladybugs and the other Stink Bugs will just go hungry. Stink Bugs will not eat any other bug in your collection. There are 13 of these in the game.
The brown cards are a set of 13 unique cards that will affect how the game plays or how you will score. The Flea Beetle will start the game.
These three cards provide a way to score bonus points if you can collect them together. However, they must survive the damage phase of the scoring round.
These are the primary sources of damage and can be beneficial or devastating depending on how you collect them. The Mantis will always eat first, followed by the Spider, then the Centipede. Sometimes these are not collected due to the Giant Toad. Unlike Stink Bugs, these three will eat ANY bug you choose and if you happen to collect all three of them then you'll have decisions to make seeing how the Mantis can eat the Spider or the Centipede, and the Spider can eat the Centipede. Order is important.
Immediately after the three big bugs eat, the Locust can make a trade. This is a real game changer and can make the younger ones cry (they'll get over it). So, if the Locust is still around after the Mantis, Spider and Centipede eat, then you can trade any one of your cards (except the locust itself) for any one card of another player provided that the other player does not currently have the Pill Bug. The Pill Bug protects you from the Locust trade. If you happen to collect both of these cards, then no one can stop you!
As you can imagine, these two cards are not so desirable to collect. In fact they're down right annoying (but fun to make others collect). The Earwig will reduce your Ladybug score and the Slug will increase your Stink Bug damage. Yeah, these are almost always fed to the bigger bugs, although I can't imagine that they ever finish eating the Slug, even the birds spit them out!
These two cards can never be collected. If they are in the pile that you're collecting, then simply leave them in front of you during game play. The Dragonfly can be used one time to pass the lead. There will be times you do not want to lead. Once you pass the lead, remove the Dragonfly from play. If the Giant Toad is on the pile when you're collecting, it will stay in place for the remainder of the game. Evertime you collect from this point on you must feed the Giant Toad, yes even if you're collecting Ladybugs. It's a blessing and a curse.
The Backyard FIREFLIES expansion is included in the $36 and $45 pledge tiers. This expansion greatly increases the opportunity to gain more points during game play. It includes 13 fireflies and 13 crickets (26 cards). Fireflies add 1 point each and whichever player collects the most crickets will gain a 6 point bonus.
The VENOM expansion is included in the $36 and $45 pledge tiers. It includes 9 Hobo spiders, 3 Recluse spiders and 1 Widow (13 cards). These cards, when collected, deliver negative venom points. This damage is irreversible, however, VENOM offers a "shoot the moon" option which deals a severe blow to every other player, if you can manage to collect all 13 spiders.
The Backyard POND expansion is included in the $36 and $45 pledge tiers. This expansion includes 7 mosquitoes, 4 goldfish, 1 tadpole and 1 frog (13 cards). Players will try to collect the goldfish and get the frog/tadpole bonus while avoiding the pesky mosquitoes.
The Backyard HIVE expansion is only available in the $45 pledge tier. The HIVE cards include 12 honey bees and 1 hornet (13 cards). This expansion adds an entirely new layer of strategy and mechanic to the game. Players will go through the normal mechanics of collecting cards and will also be managing bees in play, attempting to collect honey, while also doing their best not to provoke the hornet.
The Backyard ANTS expansion is only available in the $45 pledge tier. ANTS includes 12 basic ants and 1 fire ant (13 cards). This expansion vastly increases the strategy of collecting cards. The ant cards have the unique ability to change color which can get you out of a real mess or steal cards from an unsuspecting player. The Fire Ant is the most powerful card yet with the ability to remove any card at any time. The Giant Toad has met its match!
Game Design/Illustration: John Jackson
Video Production: Russel Jolley—www.behance.com/MoGrafMan
Video Music: audionautix.com
Testing: Russ Rollins, Pace McCulloch, Dan Fisher, Shawn Kerr, Nate Humphrey, Brian Jonsson, Brad Knapp, Austin Petersen, Brendon Foster
Risks and challenges
With a project like this, the biggest challenge will be manufacturing. Specifically dealing with the sometimes lengthy proofing process, which could delay projected timelines. If stretch goals are met then manufacturing details will grow. We will diligently keep our backers updated throughout the manufacturing and shipping process.
Almost 40 original artistic assets have been created so far for this game and its expansions. During the duration of this campaign I anticipate that a small portion of the art will actually change, I've created multiple compositions of some of the cards and these other versions may end up working better visually. I'm absolutely confident that any artistic changes can be made in a timely manner and will in no way delay any deadline.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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