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$1,841 pledged of $5,000 goal
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$1,841 pledged of $5,000 goal
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About

We're here to make a game.

First things first, who are we? We are CGS Unit LLC, a company whose mission is to share our love of crafts, games, and science with the world! Our CEO and co-founder, Lauren Woolsey, has created and developed Amino! over the past year. She's also a long-time member of the Kickstarter community and has backed five dozen projects. Our other company members and co-founders are Doug Ferrer and Sean McKillop, who are each working on projects of their own.

Now, how about this game? Amino! is a lightweight strategy card game. Gameplay is simple, fast, and fun. On their turn, a player can peek at face-down cards on the table, play cards in front of themselves and others, and swap cards already played. Players try to collect cards to get the most points and put negative-point cards in front of others. Players that can remember key card locations, bluff their opponents, and assemble powerful card-combinations will be victorious!

The unique thing about Amino! is that, along with solid gameplay that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike, the theme contains real science and can be used in educational settings. The cards you collect represent molecules and environmental effects, and your goal is to build an atmosphere that can foster the creation of amino acids.

We know you'll love how portable and easy-to-learn Amino! is. We have a video (22.5 minutes) of three players learning how to play Amino! This video demonstrates both gameplay and the learning curve for new players. You can find it on YouTube. We've also got a video less than five minutes long showing one round from a four-player game if you want to see a quicker gameplay demo:

In the following sections, we'll cover in more detail REVIEWS, RULES, GOALS, REWARDS, and the TIMELINE. Thanks for reading!

We're trying to get Amino! into the hands of as many game reviewers and playtesters as possible because we know everyone will love it!

The Care and Feeding of Nerds Playtesting Lab

We submitted Amino! to the Playtesting Lab this past December for blind playtesting. A total of twelve playtesters, reflecting a range of tabletop experience, played several games of Amino! with varying player count. Here are specific bits of their anonymous feedback:

  • "This game took maybe 3 minutes to learn and I never felt like the more experienced gamers had a big advantage over me." --Novice Gamer
  • "After learning Amino, I kept making comparisons to chess or checkers; it's easy to learn, but there's a wide variety of strategies that you can employ to win." --Veteran Gamer #1
  • "This game seems like it can fit into that role of bridge-gapper if you're at a party with a mix of gamers and non-gamers." --Veteran Gamer #2
  • "It's so fun, fast, and portable. This seems like an ideal way to pass time with fellow gamers while, say, waiting in line at a con." --Veteran Gamer #3

Using a scale of 1-10 -- with 1 being "absolutely unplayable" and 10 being "I must own this now" -- to rate their playtesting experience, the playtesters gave the prototype a median score of 9 out of 10 (the arithmetic mean was 8.8 if you're curious). 

Game Makers Guild Curation Process

Amino! has made many appearances at playtesting meetings of the Boston-based Game Makers Guild. After three nominations in a row from designers at the meeting who played the game, Amino started the process of Game Makers Guild Curation. It passed the intensive playtest with flying colors and breezed through the blind playtest! This past weekend, it completed the curation process, and now we have a Seal of Approval!

UNPUB 5 Feedback

This Kickstarter for Amino! launched during Unpub 5, where CGS Unit LLC demoed Amino! and Stars, Inc. over the weekend. Feedback forms filled out by playtesters were helpful, even when some of the responses conflicted with each other (too educational? silly playtesters :P). Here are some highlights:

  • "Scientifically educational games, rather than lectures disguised as games, are rare and beautiful when they happen."
  • "I really liked the fast paced nature as well as the sun and lightning cards"
  • "Having the cards in the atmosphere played face down was incredibly fun; it was the right combination of strategy and luck"
  • "It was fun, cute, and simple."
  • "You really had to decide who you wanted to look at and when and what to switch. High Risk, high reward"
  • "It's good to see a heavy science game married to a simple concept."

Additional Reviews:

Kathy's Cluttered Mind

Amino! is a lightweight strategy game, meant to appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. It is super-portable and easy to learn. Game play includes bluffing, developing deep strategy, and a little bit of memory. The complete game includes:

  • 1 standard deck tuck box
  • 42 playing cards, described at the bottom of this section
  • 6 player reference cards. (Novice gamer feedback from the Playtesting Lab: "I kept getting confused by what to do each turn, but that's just because I kept forgetting to look at the reference card.")
  • 1 Rules Sheet, included in its entirety at http://cgsunit.com/amino/. (Veteran gamer feedback from the Playtesting Lab: "Very clean and straightforward; I deeply appreciate all games that can fit the entirety of their rules onto a single sheet of paper.")

To be able to bring Amino! to the world, we have to print a minimum of 500 copies. We have invested a lot of time and money into bringing this game this far, including costs from artwork, prototypes, marketing, universal product code (UPC), and accounting. The $5000 goal here on Kickstarter reflects the sum of the following:

  • Costs incurred to manufacture, test, and ship the games to us
  • Shipping costs to get the games to you
  • Kickstarter fees, credit card fees, and other taxes

The great thing about Kickstarter, though, is we can reach many more people than the 500 minimum printing. More games means a lower price per game which translates to upgraded components!

Stretch Goal #1: $6000

We've lowered stretch goal #1 to $6000 because we are really excited to have your science facts. If we reach this level, we'll open up the flavor text fun-facts to you! Right now, each copy of the same card has the same awesome science fact:

Three example cards from the Amino! deck, drafts of art and template.
Three example cards from the Amino! deck, drafts of art and template.

If we reach this first stretch goal, every card will have a different fact about that molecule or environmental effect. Moreover, we'll crowd-source these facts, and the chosen facts will also list the name of the backer who contributed each! It will be AWESOME.

Stretch Goal #2: $7,500

Card Upgrade! The cards will be thicker to make sure they are extra super-duper durable using blue core stock and a higher gsm (instead of just extra durable, as would be the case if we don't hit this goal). If those terms mean nothing to you, just know that the cards will be thicker and better if we can reach this stretch goal by printing enough games to get to a better price point.

Stretch Goal #3?

We have been kicking around several other ideas for making the game even better (telescoping box, score sheets, etc), but let's start with those. We don't want to add anything that would extend our timeline in getting the game into your hands.

QUARK

Any and all support is deeply appreciated, so even if you're not planning to get the game or don't have the budget, we're so glad you've expressed your support by becoming an official Kickstarter backer. You'll be on our LIST OF AWESOME on our website.

PROTON

Have too many games on your shelf? Not to worry! You can get a full-resolution print-and-play digital file of Amino! with all of the final artwork to look at and print as many copies of as you'd like! We'll also include you in the LIST OF AWESOME, because you're awesome.

ELECTRON CLOUD (limited to 70)

You're quick on the trigger and have helped us achieve a strong launch! For that we thank you. You'll get the digital print-and-play and one copy of Amino! for a super-special EARLY BIRD pledge amount AND you'll get it in the first shipping wave!! We'll also include you in the LIST OF AWESOME for being such a skillful Kickstarter ninja.

ATOM

Here it is, the way to get one copy of Amino! of your very own! You'll also get the digital print-and-play and a shout out on the LIST of AWESOME. Tell your friends! You can all be atoms together, and maybe even make a MOLECULE...

MOLECULE

Think your friends will get jealous of your copy of Amino! and try to sneak it out one game night? Want to give Amino! as Christmas presents to EVERYONE?! Well here's the way to get three copies at a discount. At this level, you can add $8 for extra copies beyond those three. (Please note, Kickstarter rules mean you can only get 10 copies maximum.) You'll also get the digital print-and-play and a shout out on the LIST of AWESOME.

NUCLEUS

One facet of our company philosophy is to bring our love of science to the world. While we promise you don't need to have any science background to fully enjoy the game mechanics and strategy of Amino!, the science flavor text and relative importance of the molecules and environmental effects like electric charge (lightning) and ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) all reflect the current understanding of how life was formed out of the primordial soup.

For this reason, we've included a backer level specifically designed for educators. You'll get six copies of Amino (enough to have 36 students playing simultaneously) and the game designer, Lauren Woolsey, will engage in a discussion of science, educational games, and really anything else you'd like her to impart to your students in 1-2 hours. This will be done via Google Hangouts or Skype unless the school is local to the Cambridge/Boston area. We'll also include you and your class in the LIST OF AWESOME on our website and send digital print-and-play files to you and your students!

CELL

Who doesn't love a good game night? At this level, the game designer, Lauren Woolsey, will bring you six copies of Amino! and teach you and your friends how to play. She'll also bring along any other game prototypes in the works at that point (e.g. Stars, Inc.) and chat about independent game design, development, and self-publishing. You and your game group will be in the LIST OF AWESOME and get the digital print-and-play! Lauren can come to any location in the local Cambridge/Boston area, unless you provide transportation costs to go further afield.

ORGANISM (limited to 3)

You are phenomenal. Or you really like postcards. Or both! You'll get three copies of Amino! along with a postcard once per week for a year from the game designer. These postcards will contain special project updates, awesome science facts, and cool random stuff! You'll get the digital print-and-play and you'll be at the very top of the LIST OF AWESOME when it debuts on the website.

We totally understand the backer side of things (remember, Lauren has backed 60 projects), and how frustrating it can be when a project is delayed or the project designer drops out of communication. We're going to do our best to avoid delays and keep in constant contact throughout the process. Any updates to the timeline will be communicated to you via Project Updates, but we'll also try to keep the big picture up-to-date in this section on the main page.

Amino! is fully developed; we'll get a new version of the artwork and send it to manufacturers within a month of the campaign's end. The majority of delays come in during the manufacturing process, but we've tried to plan for that. We've given the project a full ten months to go from "Congratulations! Your Kickstarter is Successful!" to your game table.

February 7 (4:00pm EST): Campaign launches
February 7-8: Lauren and Sean were at Unpub 5 in Baltimore, MD to demo Amino!
February 13-15: Lauren was at BOSKONE in Boston, MA to demo Stars, Inc. and Amino!
March 6-7: Lauren will be at PAX East to demo Amino! and be on a panel about game development (6:30pm March 6th, Arachnid Theatre)!
March 7 (4:00pm EST): Campaign ends

Risks and challenges

This is the first tabletop game that we are going through the self-publishing process with, but we've done our research! Between online resources and many successful game designer friends and contacts, We are prepared to encounter and overcome every obstacle in the process.

Any venture has challenges, but with a complete game that does not have specialized components, the production process will not be too complicated. We've done nearly all of the legal/business behind-the-scenes stuff already, so there won't be surprises on that end.

To our lovely friends outside of the US: shipping is hard, especially for a company of three people who don't have any infrastructure built up for international shipping. The QUARK and PROTON rewards are certainly available for any location, and we're opening the MOLECULE and ORGANISM rewards to ship anywhere, but the others are within the US only. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this.

If you have any other concerns, please be sure to send us a message!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    QUARK -- Any support is still support! Thank you for backing our project, you'll be on the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website.

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    PROTON -- Get a full-resolution print-and-play digital file of Amino! with all of the final artwork. We'll also include you in the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website!

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    ELECTRON CLOUD -- Thanks for backing right away! This level gets you 1 (one) copy of Amino! for a super-special EARLY BIRD pledge amount and your game will be sent out first. We'll also send you the print-and-play files and include you in the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website!

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    Reward no longer available 70 backers
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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    ATOM -- This level gets you 1 (one) copy of Amino! We'll also send you the print-and-play files and include you in the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    MOLECULE -- This level gets you 3 (three) copies of Amino! delivered to a single address. We'll also send you the print-and-play files and include you in the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website! Add $8 for each additional copy above 3.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    NUCLEUS -- Designed for educators, get 6 (six) copies of Amino! delivered to your classroom, and have a Skype/Hangout discussion with Lauren about science and educational games. We'll also send you the print-and-play files and include you and your class in the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    CELL -- Game night! Get 6 (six) copies of Amino! delivered to you in person by Lauren, who will teach you the game and chat about game development. We'll also send you the print-and-play files and include you and your game group in the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website! (For backers in local Boston-Metro area; otherwise backer must provide transportation)

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    ORGANISM -- Get 3 (three) copies of Amino! delivered to one address and the print-and-play files PLUS a year of weekly postcards from the creator with project updates, science facts, and other cool stuff (total of 52 postcards). You'll be right at the top of the "LIST OF AWESOME" on our website!

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Funding period

- (28 days)