The Networks: A tabletop strategy game for 1-5 TV executives
Welcome to the TV business! You are the owner of a new television network. All you have are three awful public access shows, a small amount of cash, and endless ambition. Plus it looks like you’re not the only new TV network in town...
THANK YOU BACKERS!
Over 2,500 of you pledged over $100,000 to make this game a reality. I truly appreciate it, and I can't wait to deliver an incredible game to you!
The Networks is a tabletop strategy game from the designer of Bad Medicine, Battle Merchants, and Prolix, in which the players are all running competing television networks. You'll start from humble beginnings to amass the best-possible prime-time lineup and a solid archive of reruns. The game runs 60-90 minutes, and is for 1-5 players.
The challenge of the game is that your shows will require stars and ads. But some stars perform better on certain kinds of shows, and some ads perform better in certain time slots. You'll be making all sorts of juicy, tricky decisions as you guide your TV network to the top!
In The Networks, you will start with three awful public access shows and some money. As the game goes on, you will be canceling these shows and replacing them with better and better shows.
Shows will have varying prerequisites of stars and ads; you'll want to secure those before developing your shows. stars and ads have their own sets of conditions; they perform better on certain types of shows or in certain time slots.
Shows age each season. They usually plunge in popularity at some point, so you must be quick to replace them with fresh new shows whenever you can.
The Networks rewards planning and strategy, but you can't ignore the other players. They may beat you to the show you were planning on getting. Timing is crucial!
Here is the close-to-final rulebook. Text may change slightly here and there.
Here's a video tutorial...
Want to try the game yourself? Here is a free print-and-play version of the game! This version of the game has no illustrations and no advanced cards.
- It's challenging. You'll be faced with all sorts of tricky decisions every turn, as you manage your TV network. Should you go with expensive sports shows, or stick with the more time-sensitive sitcoms? Cancel a show now? Or leave your stable of stars and ads for something possibly better next season?
- It's tight. I've spent over five years working on this game, mercilessly squishing mechanisms that sounded cool at first but didn't fit perfectly within the game. What's left is a smooth, refined game that plays beautifully.
- It's easy to learn. All your moves are very thematic, so there aren't any weird or fiddly rules. And I've engineered the start of the game to not be overwhelming for your first game.
- It looks fantastic. The Networks features graphic design from Heiko Günther (Glory to Rome: Black Box, The New Science, Tesla Vs. Edison) and art from Travis Kinchy. It is fantastic to look at, and the graphic design has been specifically playtested to be as smooth and intuitive as possible. In fact, most of the art in the project video at the top of this page came directly from the game!
- It's replayable. The game comes with advanced cards designed to go in after you've got the hang of the basic game. There are a bunch of different ways your games can go, and you'll always be facing a fresh challenge.
- It plays equally well from 1 to 5 players. Too many games have optimistic player ranges. Some are 5-player games that really should be 4-player games. Others play like completely different games at different player counts. The Networks scales wonderfully from 1-5 players, providing a consistently fun experience each time.
- Yes, the solo mode is really good. Lots of games feature solo modes that are throw-ins, but The Networks' solo mode is just as good as any other player count. That's why it's not a stretch goal. I feel that The Networks' solo mode is a fundamental, core part of the game, so it's baked into the base funding goal.
- It's funny. From starting shows like "Get to Know Your Lower Colon" and "Emergency Broadcast Test Hour" to later shows like "Communist-y", "Upton Crabby", and "NCISICBMOMGOMG: Scranton" to stars like "That Weird-Looking Guy" and "Always Dies In Everything", this is a game with a sense of humor.
- Your pledge actually makes a difference. There are publishers out there using Kickstarter as a pre-order system. If you don't pledge, the game will come out anyway. But I need your help to release The Networks next summer. And as a backer, you'll have my ear if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the game.
Rahdo Runs Through
Bower's Game Corner
Jon Gets Games
Board Game Brawl
Let's Level Up
"This is the perfect medium-weight game... I’m impressed with what Gil Hova has done in The Networks and look forward to seeing how it will do on Kickstarter. He’s made a solid game with a great sense of humor. And yes, it was difficult to cancel “An Hour of Shouting”, but it didn’t bring in the viewers I needed. There’s no room for sentimentality on the Networks." - Indie Cardboard
"The Networks is, quite literally, my favorite Euro-style game. Gil Hova has done what many have found unthinkable, combining a deep economic game of resource management with sharp humor and an incredibly engaging narrative. It's a perfect blend of mechanism and theme. It is, in short, UHF: The Euro Game. And you need it in your collection." - Chris Michaud, Flip the Table podcast
"If you're looking for some lighter fun with a backbone, and fantastic dad puns, you can feel good spending an hour of your table time with it... I think Gil's game is smart, well-designed, and it sneaks in a challenging game under the cover of humor." - Heavy Cardboard
"With screwball humor and well-developed mechanics, this game offers both charming flavor and solid design. The Networks is basically UHF: The Board Game. It encourages you to excel at the inanity of television programming on the one hand while lambasting it on the other, and yet this charming mix of motives adds up to a game that’s amusing and strategic all at once." - The Cardboard Republic review (Awarded the Seal of the Republic!)
"The Networks is a thoroughly enjoyable card game. Deciding when to develop new shows and drop existing shows, as well as what time slots, who will star in them and what advertising to use is surprisingly fun. The game plays fast, is easy to teach but has many tough decisions. I cannot wait to see what potential additions come about from stretch goals for this game’s Kickstarter campaign." - Board Game Quest
"This is a winner. I want one. We're actually going to fight over this copy." - Punching Cardboard
"Overall, The Networks was done beautifully and kept me wanting more... kinda like my yearn for reality television, but much less guilty this time around." - Indie Tabletop
"The Networks is simply an extremely well-designed game... and the gameplay is just so solid. Maybe it’s true that there’s nothing good on TV, but, quite frankly, with The Networks, I’ve already got plenty of entertainment at my fingertips." - Gameosity
"Overall, The Networks is a funny game where every decision in the solo game is mired with consequences, leaving you constantly grasping for the best strategy turn after turn. It never stops narrowing your window of opportunity, constantly forcing you to push yourself to develop shows, hire actors, and acquire ads in an escalatingly diminishing market. It's a constant push-and-pull mental exercise in dynamic strategizing as you race to get the best shows possible for the most viewers!" - Willie Hung, Gameritis Guy
Want more than two copies of the game with your pledge? Send me a message! Let me know how many copies you're interested in, and I'll let you know how much to pledge, including shipping. Note that Kickstarter rules prevent me from sending more than 10 copies.
Fine print for the NETWORK EXECUTIVE, ADVERTISER, and STAR levels:
Formal Ferret Games must receive your submission by October 7 EOD. If I don't feel your submission is right for the game, I will work with you to fix it; however, Formal Ferret Games reserves the right to reject any submissions we feel are inappropriate.
Fine print for the SUPERSTAR level:
All points from the STAR level apply. You will choose what Show or Star Card you will be on from an existing list; you will not be able to make your own!
There's a typo in the SUPERSTAR level for shipping costs. I'm not allowed to edit it at this point, so here is the correct value:
US shipping: $2 USD
Canada and EU: $8 USD
Rest of the world: $11 USD
Sorry for the confusion!
I've been designing games for almost 15 years. After a long time learning how to make a good game, I'm finally seeing success. My first published game, Prolix, was released by Z-Man games in 2010. My second published game, Battle Merchants, was released by Minion Games in September 2014.
I am self-publishing my third game, Bad Medicine; it is in the process of shipping to backers after a very successful Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of the year.
I live in Jersey City, New Jersey, with my girlfriend and two adorable ferrets. I do a lot of work with the NYC-Playtest group, helping New York City-area designers make better board games. In my life, I've recorded indie rock albums, edited sound for film, programmed computers, written and performed comedy, and seen more theater and live music than I can remember.
The Networks will be my second self-published game and fourth published game overall. I've been working on it since December 2009; almost six years! Publishing this game will be the next step in my becoming a full-fledged self-publisher. It's a difficult business to succeed in, but I can do it with your help!
Here's what Heiko has to say about himself...
I am a carpenter and a graphic designer by trade. In 2010, together with five other graphic designers (who, like me, have an urge to make the world a more beautiful place) I founded Bureau Stabil, an agency for graphic design and related stuff. We operate from Saarbrücken and love our jobs.
In my family, we have always been playing board games, mostly the variety that allows you to be mean to the people you really like. Playing board games to me is, among other things, a way to build character. Much like in real life, there are rules you need to adhere to, there are ways you might try and break these rules, there are other people whose actions you might want to guess, react to or influence – in short to interact with – to be successful, and, most importantly, you make and keep changing plans and look for ways to bring them fruition.
But unlike real life, if a plan doesn't work out, you restart and try a different one next time. And, once the game is over, no matter how mean you acted, no matter how devious you were, no matter what grudges you held against your opponents during the game, all of that is over, the testing ground is closed and your friends are your friends again.
Here's what Travis has to say about himself...
I am a self-trained artist, sculptor, and illustrator currently being held captive in my studio and hermitage in Cleveland, Ohio. Ever since I could hold a crayon most of my time on this planet has been spent on the study and practice of Art, but when my time wasn’t being occupied by drawing robots, people in capes, or sculpting monsters, it was on games.
I am fascinated by games. Your average person will only spend at most two minutes looking at a painting hanging in a museum, but that same person if playing a game will gladly look at cards or a game board for hours. There is a captive audience ready to view the form and function we create. I want to help elevate games as an artistic medium.
I created Formal Ferret Games as an outlet for my own game designs. I wanted to take advantage of the new tools offered to designers, and release my work directly to the public.
Indie game design and publishing is still a lot of work, but it's incredible work. I'm very grateful to be able to do it!
Kickstarter page graphics:
Main video voices:
Main video animations and sound effects:
Ben Shulman, Jellybean Soup
Main video art:
Main video direction, writing, and editing:
Risks and challenges
Board games are hard to make! Anyone who's used Kickstarter to back a tabletop game can tell you about projects that funded but delivered late... if at all.
I've been designing games for a long time, and in March, I successfully funded my first self-published game, Bad Medicine. That game went to the printer this summer, and is about to be delivered to its backers.
I won't call myself a Kickstarter veteran just yet. But at this point, I've done enough to earn your trust. I have the resources and the know-how to make The Networks; all I need is some help from you.
Here is what I'm doing to make sure The Networks will not be delayed.
First: The game design is complete, and its art and layout are close to done; all that remains is the content that we'll be getting from Kickstarter backers. So there will be no delays for waiting for art or additional playtesting, once we are done with the small amount of art coming from the Kickstarter campaign.
Second: The game will be printed by Ad Magic, the same company that prints Cards Against Humanity, as well as dozens of other games (including my previous game, Bad Medicine). They are incredibly responsive, thorough, and professional.
Third: I will be using professional fulfillment services to deliver the products, instead of trying to handle things myself. That leaves shipping in the hands of people who can send packages safely and quickly. I'm also using a separate fulfillment service based in the UK to handle UK and EU fulfillment, which will relieve a lot of logistical and tax-related headaches.
Fourth: I've built a ton of connections in my almost 15 years designing games, many of which I used during the making of Bad Medicine. I've also backed plenty of Kickstarter projects, some which delivered on time, some which delivered late, and some that never delivered at all. I learned a lot from each of them.
Fifth: My printer will be handling the delivery of the game from the factory, so that will reduce a lot of surprises. I'm also consulting with a logistics expert who has lots of experience handling shipments, especially board games, from the factory where the game will be printed. That means I should be prepared for anything surprising that might come my way.
At this point, I'm familiar with just about everything that can go wrong in a Kickstarter. Believe me, failing to fund is not even close to the worst-case scenario! I've heard many stories, from artists never delivering their art, to pallets stolen at the port, to mold in the game boxes and snails in the shipping container.
But I've built a great team around me. I feel that I am prepared to deliver this product to you close to my estimate of June 2016.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)