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The robot programming board game for the new generation. 36 Miniatures! A game by Philippe Keyaerts

In Twin Tin Bots each player programs two robots to harvest crystals. The available orders are simple (forward, turn, harvest, unload, ...) but there are two robots to control, and only one order can be changed each turn!

Of course, the other player's robots are after the same crystals, and will push your robots, or might even rob crystals from them.

Twin Tin Bots is the latest game from acclaimed Belgian designer Philippe Keyaerts.

All pictures are from a prototype version or 3D renderings, not actual game components.

In Twin Tin Bots, each player programs two robots to harvest crystals and unload them into his base.

On the first turn of the game, each player plays an order tile on one of each of his robot's order slots, and then executes each robot's program. On subsequent turns however players may only make one change to the programming, but must still execute each robot's program. Even though it only allows one action per turn this clever system makes it possible to build a complex program over time.

The allowed actions  are as follow :

  • Make no change to the current program
  • Place a new order tile on a program slot. If the slot was not empty, the previous order tile goes back to the player's hand.
  • Swap the contents of two slots from the same robot. You can swap a filled and an empty slot. You cannot however swap slots from two different robots.
  • Remove an order tile from a slot. The order tile goes back to the player's hand.
  • Remove all order tiles from either robot's slots. The order tiles go back to the player's hand. This is useful in desperate situations, to just 'shut down' the robot.

Please note that only one of both robots' programming can be changed each turn. The other robot's program remains unchanged!

Each player has the same set of order tiles to program his robots :

  • Move forward  : The robot moves in the hex in front of him. Robots can push one crystal or another robot, but the hex behind the pushed crystal or robot must be empty. Robots cannot move or push through a base, or the boundaries of the arena.
  • Move Twice : This is the same as two consecutive move forward orders.
  • Turn left/right : The robot turns 60°, facing the next hex side.
  • Load : If empty, the robot loads the crystal in front of him. A robot can only carry one crystal at a time.
  • Unload : If he carries a crystal, the robot unloads it in front of him. A crystal cannot be unloaded on another crystal, on a crystal-carrying robot, or outside the arena. Unloading a crystal on an empty robot effectively loads the crystal on that robot. Unloading a crystal on a base scores points equal to the crystal value. Unloading it on the ground just leaves it there.
  • Zap! : The robot sends an energy zap in front of him. The spark of energy allows him to force a robot in front of him to immediately perform a move forward or turn or load or unload action. A well timed zap! can lay ruin to the best laid plans.

Each time a crystal is unloaded in a base, a new crystal is put in play at the center of the arena. The game ends three turns after all crystals have been put into play, and the player with the highest total crystal value in his base wins the game. Remaining crystals on the ground have no value. Remaining crystals loaded on robots are worth one point less than their normal value.

Here is a video explanation of the game play :

Twin Tin Bots is very easy to grasp but hard to master and plays in under 60 minutes, even with 6 players. The player turn sequence is very simple so game rounds are short and there is no downtime.

There is very little randomness in Twin Tin Bots. This makes it very different from a game like RoboRally : you always have all orders available, so there is no waiting to draw a 'forward' tile. When it's your turn, you know what other player's robots programs are, and have a good view of their future actions. And you execute your actions on your turn, so they do not depend on unknown factors.

Philippe Keyaerts is a Belgian board games designer, famous worldwide for his previous titles : Evo , Vinci , Olympos, and the very successful Small World series.
When not creating games, he teaches remedial courses, putting his background in social studies and his master in mathematics to good use.

Twin Tin Bots is illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.

Kwanchai is a gamer as well as a talented artist from Los Angeles, and has been active on BoardGame Geek for quite some time now.

He started boardgame illustration by redesigning the artwork for Zombie in my Pocket which is now the official artwork for the game. He has also completed redesigns for Zombie Plague, Slapshot, Wiz War, Melee and Ogre.

He recently illustrated Rumble in the House and Rumble in the Dungeon, Forlorn Hope, Take the bait, and Lock n' load Heroes of the Gap. Be sure we'll see plenty more of him in the future!

In the far future of Twin Tin Bots, the main hurdle to renewable energy has been solved : energy produced from sustainable sources is now stored in high capacity crystal-based energy cells. It was discovered that crystals can store huge amounts of energy for any length of time, in a very compact volume.

In the wake of that major discovery mining corporations endeavoured to mine crystals on other planets, and many small mining operations were set up all over the galaxy. With the advent of cheap energy, advanced technologies such as the ion drive and field robotics thrived, to the point only a few humans were required to run a crystal mine.

Life in a small mining colony can be dull some days, so mining robot programmers have been known to organise friendly competitions, fielding their robots against the other programmer's in a crystal harvesting race.

These contests usually mean some of the robots will be damaged or even sent to the scrap heap, much to the dismay of the engineers who maintain them in running order, but the spectacle is usually entertaining and it raises the daily crystal yield so no-one really complains about it.

Kwanchai Moriya brings to Twin Tin Bots a fresh universe, far from the usual grim look one would expect from a crystal mining game set in the far future. He also designed the robots and crystals playing pieces, with his unique cartoon style.

A Twin Tin Bots game box contains the following :

  • Game box, in thick cardboard with a textured varnish.
  • Cardboard insert making 4 storage spaces in the box
  • The rules book
  • One two-sided game board (2-4 players, 5-6 players), in thick cardboard with a textured varnish.
  • 6 player mats, in thick cardboard with a textured varnish.
  • 6 sets of 16 order tiles, in thick cardboard with a textured varnish.
  • one set of special order tiles, in thick cardboard with a textured varnish.
  • one set of 'spare', 'rock' and 'teleport' tokens, in thick cardboard with a textured varnish.
  • 18 plastic player pieces (6 sets of one base and two robots, in 6 colors)
  • 18 clear plastic crystal pieces (3 models in 3 colors, 6 pieces of each)
  • 12 ziplock bags, for easy storage of all the bits
  • 1 stickers sheet with Left and Right arrows for the robot shoulders.
    (Colored arrows on transparent background)
  • Any stretch goals met during the campaign!

All pictures are from a prototype version, not actual game components.

Flatlined Games is based in Brussels, Belgium.
Founded in 2008 By Eric Hanuise, Flatlined Games is a one-man-business. I have a day job as freelance consultant and run Flatlined Games on the evenings and weekend. Flatlined Games is self-funded,  and takes pride in not owing money to any bank institution.
Each game published by Flatlined Games is done in tight collaboration with the designer, and we take the time to develop each game so it meets its' full potential. We also keep games in print for as long as economically feasible as we believe a board game is a work of art and not some short-lived commodity product.

In 2010, Flatlined Games released Dragon Rage, a reprint from Lewis Pulsipher's 1982 classic wargame featuring two dragons attacking a seaside city. We printed 1500 copies of Dragon Rage with a target of 5 years to sell them all and already sold a thousand so far.

In 2011, Flatlined Games released Rumble in the House, a very light and simple bluff and deduction party game from Olivier Saffre. We printed 3000 copies of RITH and sold out on three months. The second reprint of 3000 copies is sold out too. A third reprint of 3000 copies is being made, and signs already point to a fourth print shortly after that.
2011 was also our first time attending the Essen 'Spiel game fair as a publisher.

In 2012, Flatlined Games will release Rumble in the Dungeon, a stand-alone expansion to Rumble in the House. The initial print run will be 3000 copies. This will be an Essen 'Spiel 2012 release.
Flatlined Games is distributed in Belgium, France, UK, Holland, Germany, Canada, and of course in the U.S.A.

For Twin Tin Bots, it was clear from the start of the project that the game had to have plastic playing pieces. Using cardboard tokens for the robots, bases and crystals would provide a lesser gaming experience. This means the complexity of this project is much higher than our previous projects which were cardboard-only, and the costs for producing the game are also higher.

We can manage the complexity of the project, and already spent a lot of time learning about the many aspects of producing plastic pieces. We already ran quotes with several manufacturers with a track record of quality games produced, to validate our design decisions and price them.

We can build up the money required to produce the game, but this takes a long time. We cannot use all the money that comes in from sold games to print a new title, as we have to reprint existing titles to keep our distributors stocked : it would be a very bad business decision to 'kill' a game that sells well to publish a new title. These are growing pains, and very nice problems to have, indeed.
Building up the required cash to print Twin Tin Bots would take us as long as until December 2013, for an early 2014 release.

This is where we reach to you for help : by making this campaign successful the game will be released much earlier, maybe as early as March 2013 (see 'agenda' below).

Furthermore, by supporting this project you allow us to gauge interest in Twin Tin Bots and size the print run accordingly. If there is enough demand we can make a bigger print run. This ensures there are enough games produced for everyone, and that we don't sit on a warehouse of unsold inventory that could mean the demise of Flatlined Games.

The campaign goal of $40.000 only represents part of the money required to print the game, but if that goal is reached we will be able to provide the remaining money and get the game printed.

The total production costs for Twin Tin Bots are about $52k , including art, mold costs, graphic design, printing, boxing, plastic bits, etc. Some of this money already has been provided by us while pre-producing Twin Tin Bots.

Over these costs come the Kickstarter fees, the handling and processing, and of course the shipping fees. This adds up to about $25k, for a total cost of about $75k.

These costs do not take into account the review copies shipped worldwide to bloggers and reviewers, advertising, convention presence and other promotion means that Flatlined Games invests in to promote the game. These will also come from our pocket.

So we checked our available resources and based the campaign funding level on the required money to make Twin Tin Bots happen. When producing boardgames the whole amount must be available when placing the order to the manufacturer, so it's only once the game reaches the retailer shelves that we will start getting the money already invested in this project back.

It's your support that will make this project possible, and we want to thank you sincerely for it!

Once the game is funded, lots of things happen. First it takes a couple weeks for the project to be closed, money transferred, polls answered, etc. After that, the production process starts, and will last for about three months. After that the goods need be shipped from the factory to the shipping and handling facility, which takes another month and a half. So it will take at least 5 months between the project end and the time you get your game box. If there are issues to be solved along the way, it will be a bit longer. (It could also be shorter, but we want to keep expectations realistic. Too many projects overpromise and underdeliver in that regard.)
The gamer version : producing such a game takes 5 months + 1d10 weeks.

IMPORTANT NOTES : 

  • For all levels, free shipping is included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom.
  • For all other places add $24.
  • All 'Game' levels will get any stretch goal benefits.
  • T-Shirt only goals will not get the benefits.
  • See the question about 'Exclusive' in the FAQ below.

Pledging at this level shows your support for the project. Thank you!

Just the exclusive T-Shirt, illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

Limited to 100! One copy of Twin Tin Bots, with a special price to thank you for being one of the early supporters.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

One copy of Twin Tin Bots.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

Limited to 50! One copy of Twin Tin Bots at a special early bird price and the exclusive T-Shirt, illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

One copy of the game + one set of 36 exclusive glow in the dark playing pieces (crystals, robots and bases). The Glow in the dark pieces will use the same colors as the normal pieces, mixed with glow in the dark resin. This means they will be paler shades of the colors but useable for play. Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

One copy of Twin Tin Bots and the exclusive T-Shirt, illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

One copy of the game + one set of 36 exclusive glow in the dark playing pieces (crystals, robots and bases) + the exclusive T-Shirt, illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.
The Glow in the dark pieces will use the same colors as the normal pieces, mixed with glow in the dark resin. This means they will be paler shades of the colors but useable for play.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

Three copies of the game, at retailer price (Registered retailers only - proof that you are a retailer will be required). You can order the exclusive T-Shirts as extra for $15 piece.
Free shipping included to USA, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. For all other places add $24.

Limited to one! You will get the original of the artwork Kwanchai Moriya drew for the box cover, signed by the artist. This is an unique piece, obviously!
You also get the 'Game and exclusive T-Shirt' level rewards, and worldwide free shipping included.

One copy of the game plus one set of exclusive stainless STEEL playing pieces and the exclusive T-Shirt, illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.
The availability of 3D print-on-demand technology allows us to offer you this very unique reward : we will have a state-of-the-art 3D printing company craft a set of 36 playing pieces from our 3D models, in stainless STEEL (crystals, robots and bases).
A color stripe will be handpainted on each piece before shipping, so these stainless steel pieces can be used for actual gameplay!
This reward is only available for US, Canada, and Europe, and includes free registered and insured shipping.

All 'Game' levels will get any stretch goal benefits. T-Shirt only goals will not get the benefits.

You made the game possible. Thank you! We will of course place a Thank You note by the Publisher and Philippe Keyaerts in all copies of the game so everyone knows how this project was made possible.

Let's keep the fun going, and see if we can add some nice things on the way.

A FREE Art Print (A4/21x29.7cm ) signed and numbered by Kwanchai Moriya will be added to each 'game' pledge. This is an exclusive reward for backers of this project!

A FREE Illustrated PDF/epub file will be made available to everyone. 'Game' level backers will of course get it in advance. Features character biographies, and anecdotes for the bots and characters featured in the game.
Supporters will also receive a direct access private link allowing them to purchase a paper copy from a P.O.D. service such as lulu.com.

A FREE PDF/epub file Challenge booklet will be made available to everyone. 'Game' level backers will of course get it in advance. It will present you with in game situations for you to puzzle through seeking the best solution.
Supporters will also receive a direct access private link allowing them to purchase a paper copy from a P.O.D. service such as lulu.com.

A FREE Art Book PDF/epub art book will be made available to everyone. 'Game' level backers will of course get it in advance. Features Twin Tin Bots concept art and finished pieces by Kwanchai Moriya, artist interview, pictures of his workshop.
Supporters will also receive a direct access private link allowing them to purchase a paper copy from a P.O.D. service such as lulu.com.

A FREE Illustrated PDF/epub novella will be made available to everyone. 'Game' level backers will of course get it in advance. We will write a short novella that expands and explores the world and characters of Twin Tin Bot. The novella will feature illustrations by Kwanchai Moriya.
Supporters will also receive a direct access private link allowing them to purchase a paper copy from a P.O.D. service such as lulu.com.

Yucata.de is a website that offers free to play web versions of popular boardgames. Conversions are made in collaboration with the publishers, by the highly qualified volunteer programmers of Yucata.de. These volunteers have a lot of games to implement, and do it on their free time so it can take a while for a game to appear on Yucata.de
We will contract with an experience programmer to create a Twin Tin Bots module and contribute it to Yucata.de to guarantee a fast release of this web version. As all Yucata.de games, it will be free for all to play.

The Springboard Seal of Quality is your assurance that a new game project is worth your time and attention. All titles approved for Springboard campaigns are vetted by the game professionals at Game Salute
During this comprehensive evaluation process, Game Salute works with the publisher to ensure solid designs, thorough play testing, excellent presentation, and high quality components.

Other questions and answers will be posted in the project's FAQ once launched. Do not hesitate to contact us to ask more info!

Q : Which levels get the stretch goals ?
A : All levels that include a copy of the game will receive all stretch goals reached during the campaign.

Q : Just how "exclusive" is the T shirt/glow in the dark playing pieces set ?
A : If we have less than 500 T shirts requests, we will need to print 500 and we will sell the remaining shirts outside this project, mainly on fairs and events that we attend. No matter how much we eventually print, this will be the only print run ever for these T shirts.
The same goes for the glow in the dark figures, but the minimum quantity is not known yet. It should be 300 or 500, to be confirmed by the manufacturer.


Q : Why don't you put supporter's names in the box/rules/... ?
A : Because this can delay the production of the game and become a liability. Reports from other projects that have done this before show it can become a problem : what if not everyone has filled in his name when the files must be sent to the printer ? What if your name is spelled wrong ? What if you want to provide a pseudonym, or if your real name comes as rude or obtrusive in other languages (or even in your language), etc. All these little things eat up a lot of time to set right. Flatlined Games is a one man shop so I want to focus all the time available on providing a better game and avoid being sidetracked in that kind of stuff.

Q : Will the game be available in stores after the project ?
A : Yes! This is the goal of this project : enable us to produce enough game boxes to sell the game through the distribution channel after the campaign, effectively kick-starting this game.

Q : Then, why should I support this project instead of waiting for the game to be released ?
A : As a reward for helping us fund the first print run, you get the game at a special launch price (retail price will be $65) , free shipping*, and have access to exclusive rewards such as the T-Shirt and special sets of playing pieces (glow in the dark, steel). The level of interest met during the campaign will also allow us to right size the print run.
* USA, Benelux, France, Germany and United Kingdom. Other destinations will bear a $24 shipping fee.

Q: This is expensive, i'll wait and get the game cheaper when it's released.
A : Retail price will be $65, and since the game will be distributed by Game Salute to retail stores only, it will retail for that price. So the $55 shipping included is actually cheaper.


Q : Can I order multiples ?
A : Yes! All non-limited levels can be ordered in multiples. Just adapt your pledge, multiplying the amount accordingly.

Q : Can you ship cheaper to Canada ?
A : Unfortunately, shipping to canada from Europe or US costs about the same. Sorry about this.

Q : Can you ship as gift/with no value/... to lower customs fees ?
A : We have to comply with all laws and regulations with regard to shipping. However we will ship domestically in the US and central europe (Benelux, Fr, De, Uk) so customs should not be a problem for most shipments.

Q : Are 3D printed playing pieces in Silver, Gold or Platinum available ?
A : Technically they are possible, but really, is it reasonable ? Steel is already pretty extravagant as is. In the end, we're making games, not jewelry.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Twin Tin Bot has received extended testing and development, and has been played on several events such as Canne's Festival International du Jeu or the Paris Est Ludique fair. Art for the game has already been produced, as the layout for the game components and design of the playing pieces : This project is mostly complete and ready to be produced, it is not a work in progress.
Flatlined Games already successfully produced two titles, with a third coming in October. We do have experience in this business, a proven track record, and a reputation to hold to.
Publishing a board game is however always a risky endeavour. Many things can happen, errors can be made, as board games are such individual projects that there is no 'standard procedure' that can be followed. We believe we can deliver, just as we did before with previous projects.
Flatlined Games is a one man business, run on the evenings and weekends alongside a 'real' job. The main risk is delays, in production or in shipment, as we will not compromise on product quality. Of course we will provide regular updates on production and shipping status and issues along the project.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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