In November of last year, Dice Hate Me Games issued a challenge to the board game design community: Create an engrossing game using only 54 cards. Ultimately, these games would be judged by a group of playtesters and independent judges, and an overall winner would be chosen to be presented on Kickstarter and added to the Rabbit line of small Dice Hate Me Games titles. We figured we might get 30 or 40 entries.
We got 108.
So, as Rabbits are wont to do, they started multiplying. One winner became four. Two other Rabbits popped up that simply couldn't be ignored. And, now, here we are with six amazing games that are yearning to be published and find a place on your gaming table. This is their story.
This thematic three-pack featuring food and fine libations happened organically during the process of determing the winner of the 54-Card Challenge. Details of each game in the three-pack are below; for more information, including interviews with the designers, check this out.
Diner, by designer Matthew O'Malley, was the grand prize-winning entry in the 54-Card Challenge. In this fast-paced game, players take on the role of waitstaff in a friendly competition to make the most money in tips. Take orders for the tables in your section, gather the plates to fill those orders, serve your tables, and do it as quickly as possible while showing up the others.
Diner features a pseudo-real-time mechanic that has players passing action tokens whenever they take an action; if a player does not have a token, that player can't take an action. At times, action tokens may accumulate in front of a player, allowing them to take multiple actions at once. For 2 to 4 players, about 10-15 minutes. (Download the rules)
Ben Rosset’s Brew Crafters Travel Card Game is a 54-card game based on the big-box Euro Brew Crafters that was Kickstarted last fall by Dice Hate Me Games. Brew Crafters TCG was not an official entry in the 54-Card Challenge, but after its mass appeal and widespread acclaim at Unpub 4, it proved worthy of becoming a Rabbit.
Just as in its big-box brother, players in Brew Crafters TCG are trying to manage their craft breweries by hiring workers, installing equipment or using cards to brew craft beers. For 2 to 4 players, 20-30 minutes. (Download the rules)
Bryan Fischer (co-designer of Chicken Caesar, and one of the heads of Nevermore Games) has been working on the design for Pie Factory for the past couple of years, and approached Dice Hate Me Games about publishing his delicious little title long before the 54-Card Challenge.
As workers in a pie factory, players are competing for the big promotion to be announced in two days' time. In order to be selected, players must box the most value in pies and influence the higher-ups to choose them. Pie Factory's heart and soul is the Assembly Line mechanic from which players draft ingredients for their pies. Each ingredient takes a certain amount of time to prepare and player order is rearranged each round to reflect time taken, so players must time their actions just right to make sure they get the ingredients they most want. This is the one where grandma will crush everyone at the table — we've seen it far too many times. For 2 to 4 players, about 30 minutes. (Download the rules)
This thematic three-pack features thrilling adventures on two separate islands and exotic locations around the US — or at least a waiting room in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Details of each game in the three-pack are below; for more information, including interviews with the designers, check this out.
J. Alex Kevern's Easy Breezy Travel Agency was awarded first runner-up in the Dice Hate Me 54-Card Challenge, and for good reason: Along with Diner, it was a certified crowd-pleaser, with players walking away from the game still talking about it hours later.
Set in Sheboygan of 1974, Easy Breezy has players acting as travel agents trying their best to provide tickets for customers going to one of four locations: New Orleans, New York, Chicago and Miami. As customers line up in the queue, certain fares will rise in price, creating a greater demand and, in turn, a greater commission for the agent that is able to provide the ticket. The hand limit comes into play heavily in this game, and players will often have to put some of their customers into their waiting area — an area in front of them where other players might be able to coax travelers over to their ticket counter. For 2 to 4 players, 20-30 minutes. (Download the rules)
Graham Russell's The Fittest tied for second runner-up in the 54-Card Challenge, and was certainly the best of the social games in the competition. In The Fittest, you've been selected for the most rigorous, cutthroat reality competition on TV. As a contestant, you’ll compete in challenges and work with and against the other competitors for a shot at fame and fortune. You won’t win if you go it alone, but don’t get too friendly; you’ll have to do a bit of backstabbing to emerge victorious.
The Fittest features fierce social play and shifting alliances. Players will have to evaluate a challenge each round and convince other players to work with them in order to best the challenge for variable rewards. The player who has best managed their alliances and achieved the best rewards at the end of the game will be the victor. For 4 to 6 players, 30 to 45 minutes. (Download the rules)
Dan Keltner & Seth Jaffee's Isle of Trains was tied for second runner-up with The Fittest, and was possibly the most strategic Rabbit in the competition.
In this little Euro card game that could, players are train operators, building trains with the right mix of freight cars needed to complete delivery contracts before their opponents. Cards are used in multiple ways: they can be built as train cars or buildings supporting your train line, used as currency to pay the cost of building those new train cars and buildings, or used as cargo to load on available train cars.
When loading cargo on an opponent’s train, players receive an immediate benefit or action, but they are also giving their opponent the cargo they just might need to be able to complete a delivery contract and score big! Balancing the need to upgrade your train, take advantage of benefits from loading other players' trains, and complete delivery contracts first is the key to being the most successful train operator on the Isle of Trains. For 2 to 4 players, 30 to 45 minutes. (Download the rules)
We're funded! Achieving our base funding goal ensures that Dice Hate Me Games is able to publish these six games at the quality you have all come to expect from our products. Each game will feature quality, durable card stock with robust color, and come in custom tuck boxes with full color art.
We've reached $30,000 in funding! This means we will upgrade the card stock to a fine, French linen and be able to provide slightly larger, two-part boxes for each game. You can see pictures of the box bottom with insert and a close-up of the linen finish below.
We've also passed our second stretch goal of $36K! We are now able to add tokens to Diner and Brew Crafters Travel Card Game!
And now we've reached our next stretch goal of $42,000! Now we can do a little something special for the backers: Custom wooden nickels to be used as action tokens in Diner. These will not be in the box, and are only available to backers and as convention promotionals.
We've reached our final milestone - $50K! That means that everyone who gets The Fittest will also receive a tiki totem pendant that signifies the leader for each Episode (round of the game)! Like the Diner nickels, this Leader Totem will not be in the box, but available to backers and as convention promotionals only.
Thanks so much to all of our wonderful backers for helping us to add some great value to these games!
Dice Hate Me Games titles are broken down into five categories based on both box size and, typically, depth of play. The line is made up of Rabbits (smallest, typically simplest games), Monkeys, Roosters, Tigers, and Dragons (our biggest and most complex - yet to come). As mentioned, the Rabbits are our smallest games, and typically have the simplest rules and fastest play times.
Some examples of each category are The Great Heartland Hauling Co. (Monkey), Compounded (Rooster), and VivaJava: The Coffee Game (Tiger).
No doubt about it, I have had a love affair with card games since long before I learned how to properly shuffle a deck when I should have been studying in college. There's just something magical about playing a good, classic card game with friends and family until that deck is well-worn and well-loved.
When I first envisioned this project, it was to be a modest effort at capturing a bit of that magic while engaging the game design community in creating something special. I had no idea that the design community would rally to make not only the games special, but also the entire process. It's been challenging, at times, but seeing the enthusiasm and creativity that has poured forth from so many aspiring designers has been absolutely breathtaking.
I do want to stress that these card games are not what most would consider modern microgames; they are designed with the aesthetic of many classic 54-card games - portable and easy to play, but also with a rich depth that will reward players every time each game hits the table. I am more than proud to present these six designs to all of you, dear backers. Keep on shufflin'.
All the best,
Risks and challenges
As with any project that involves the production and manufacture of a good to be delivered, there is certainly a real chance for hiccups, delays and more than one or two gremlins gumming up the works along the way. Many boardgame projects on Kickstarter have been seriously hampered by art production delays, problems with an overseas factory, missing units and one shipping snafu after another.
Luckily, we have a few projects under our belt, and have dealt with many of those snafus and gremlins along the way. We have a good working relationship with two of our overseas manufacturers and have become accustomed to their protocols, communication styles and general idiosyncrasies. We try to plan for all contingencies, and we've been fairly successful with that in our past projects.
We've learned a lot these past couple of years. The last three Dice Hate Me Games projects — VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, Belle of the Ball, and Brew Crafters — were successfully funded this summer and fall, respectively, and are currently in production. Things are going smoothly with the projects, so far — VivaJava Dice and Belle of the Ball are in the late stages of physical production and are just about ready to head out on the boat, and Brew Crafters is nearing final file completion - but they still fall well within the risks and challenges category since there are many steps in the production process. We are vigilant and resourceful, however, and will keep on top of these projects while we promote and prepare these card games for a hopeful production run. We're multitasking like maniacs, but we promise the same quality as our other successful Kickstarters. Besides, the art for The Rabbits is almost complete, so we should be able to jump into full production shortly after the campaign wraps.
We won't lie - stuff happens. Delays can occur. Sometimes you have to go back and forth on color samples six times just to get the color right, and even then the color isn't perfect. But what we do promise is that we will hold ourselves to the same high standards we expect from other board game publishers, and we will be completely honest and open with each of you every step of the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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