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A light deck-building game for 2-6 players; outsmart your opponents, hone your gene pool, and dominate the age of monsters!
A light deck-building game for 2-6 players; outsmart your opponents, hone your gene pool, and dominate the age of monsters!
A light deck-building game for 2-6 players; outsmart your opponents, hone your gene pool, and dominate the age of monsters!
323 backers pledged $6,511 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Teratozoic – A card game of creating monsters

$6,511

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Please visit http://modernevil.com/teratozoic after the Kickstarter campaign has ended to get the most up-to-date information about the game, including the most recent version of the Print-and-Play.

The nations of mankind created horrifying new weapons to wage war with one another—genetically engineered monsters whose traits could be altered and combined to overcome any opponent. Unfortunately, humanity was no match for its own creations and armies of terrifying monsters were soon out of control in their destruction of civilization. In their final global nuclear strike, humanity accomplished only two things: They wiped themselves out, and they created a highly mutagenic environment where the monsters could thrive.

This is the world at the start of a game of Teratozoic. (From greek: terato-, of or relating to monsters, -zoic, of a (specified) era, or having a (specified) animal mode of existence.) Each player has their own deck of monster parts (their Gene Pool), and will attempt to make the best of the mutations they draw from a common deck to come out on top in the battle for survival. At first your monsters will be more random mutation than representative of a stable gene pool (players will draw most of the cards for each hand from the common deck), but by the time you reach the Teratozoic Era your monsters will be built entirely from the best traits you retained in each generation. The dominant species in this new era (the final winner of the game) will be the one with the most robust gene pool—the player who can create the biggest, most impressive monsters at the end of the Teratozoic Era.

Game contents:

  • 7 Era cards
  • 96 Monster-part cards, each with a unique illustration:
    Starting monsters – 36 cards
    Basic cards – 36 cards
    Advanced cards – 24 cards
  • 6 Reference cards (player aids)
  • A rule book

Each player starts with a deck of 6 cards, their 'Gene Pool', which they will gradually expand and improve over the course of the game. Each generation (one round of play), every player will draw cards in part from a deck of 'Random Mutations' (a common deck) and in part from their own deck; at the beginning of the game each hand is mostly random, but as play progresses the randomness is reduced until during the last 'Era' of play all cards are drawn from players' Gene Pools. 

After declaring whether they're playing all (or only some) of their cards, all players build monsters from their cards at the same time. Whoever's monsters score the highest 'dominates the generation' and they get both to gain more cards than the other players and to pick from among all played cards while other players may only choose cards which came from their own hands.

At the end of the game, all players will assemble their entire Gene Pool into up to three of the largest single-color monsters (with no loose ends) they're able (one of each color: orange, purple, & green) and the player who uses the most cards in their monsters is the winner. This means that winning the game depends not just on winning as many hands as possible (requiring the highest-scoring cards and rewarding the highest number of cards), but also paying enough attention to the cards gained (especially in lost generations) to ensure the right number of connections of the right colors end up in a player's Gene Pool.

With no discrete currency, plenty of player interaction & simultaneous play, plus the fun of putting together whimsical monsters every turn, Teratozoic is unlike any deck-building game you've seen before—and it's light enough that it could be used as a gateway game or enjoyed by younger players.

Download the rules (PDF) – This is the Preview version (v0.9.0) of the rules included in the Print-and-Play edition of Teratozoic. (The full PnP PDF is available below.) After the project is funded, I am planning to have the physical versions of the game include a 3.5x5" rule book containing the same information, but laid out to fit that format. (I've been working on updating and revising the PDFs of the Preview Edition of the 3.5x5" rule book (updated to v0.9.5 on 8/9, now includes cover w/interior)—I welcome any feedback that can continue improve the clarity of the final rule book, from rearranging sections (which may not be possible, due to printing constraints) to simple re-writing; this is my first game-rule-book of this size & scope, and I appreciate the help.)

How-To-Play Video – Many people will have an easier time understanding the basic flow of the game by seeing it played than they would by reading the rules, so I've put together a rough video (only about 8 minutes long!) which shows and explains the basics of an entire game of Teratozoic:

 Get the Game:

This is the main point of the project, the tier that gets you a copy of the game. If you aren't interested in designing custom cards or having your favorite monster painted, pledge $20. There is no discount for ordering multiple copies available, and won't be unless we reach a significant production volume.

I also have a few copies of the Preview Version of Teratozoic left over, which I'll be able to ship out immediately after funding clears Amazon. I produced these with the same printers/suppliers I'll be using for between about 50 and 1,000 copies of Teratozoic, so they are substantially identical to the final game. These are the same copies I've been sending to reviewers and using to preview the game at cons and local game stores, and are what you see in all the photos and videos on this page. You might pledge at this level because you want to support the project more but can't afford $99+, or because you want to start playing as soon as possible.

A Little Less:

If you want to help get Teratozoic published, but aren't sure the game is for you (or if you can't justify the international shipping surcharges for a light card game), you can pledge at these levels and earn my gratitude, or just to join the conversation and get your foot in the door so you can decide later whether to increase your pledge. 

The following download links will get you a copy of the current Print-and-Play version of Teratozoic for free. If you can't afford to pledge $20+, or if you want to give the game a try before pledging, you're welcome to download a copy. If you like the game, or just want to show your gratitude for getting a free copy of the game, please consider pledging at least $1.

Here's the link to the: Teratozoic Print-and-Play PDF (Full color) (v0.9.1)
And the link to the: Teratozoic Print-and-Play PDF (B&W / low-ink) (v0.9.1)

If you pledge at the $5 level, I'll semi-randomly select (at least) 5 cards from among my many prototype decks, ensuring they come together to create (at least) one interesting monster with no loose ends, and mail them to you as soon as the funds clear Amazon. (Early September.) Some of these cards will be identical to those in the final version of the game, but most of them are close-but-not-quite-there. I have prototypes in four different card stocks from three different printers, and several iterations of the game have been produced on my preferred card stock by my preferred printer but have different backs, or lack the Color Symbols, or other small differences. The monsters are almost all the same, though, with the same set of illustrations. I'll ask your preferred color (purple, orange, or green) on the backer survey, and will do my best to get you a monster in that color but may not be able to match every request. (If, say, everyone requests one color; only a third of the cards are each color, so two-thirds of everyone will be disappointed in that unlikely scenario.)

Original Artwork:

When pledging at the $99 and $399 tiers, backers will be able to select any individual monster-part card or assemble a monster from several cards, and I will do my best to paint it for them on an 8x10" canvas for the $99 level or on a canvas of the size of their choosing, up to about 24x36", at the $399 level. Only a small monster (a couple of cards' worth) will fit on the small canvas, but if you pledge at the $99 tier and decide later you want a more elaborate monster you'll be able to send me the difference in price and get the large painting (after I've delivered everyone else's). The following is an example of a small monster which the buyer wanted a small (8x10") painting of:

The delivery estimate for the art is a year away (Summer 2015) not just because I expect it to take me a while to paint everyone's monsters, but because I don't expect backers to get their games/cards until November/December or later, and I want them to have time to play the game a while before picking the monster they want painted. (If you print the PnP & know what you want right away, I can certainly get started on your painting sooner!) In the event delivery of the game slips (say, due to high volume), it's likely that not all original paintings will be delivered on time. If the hand-painted-monster tiers sell out, I'll add additional tiers with later delivery dates.

Here's another Small Hand-Painted Monster I just did (7/30) for one of the backers (totally trusting them not to cancel their pledge!), which is a slightly-larger 11x14" size—see Update #4 for more details:

I've seen a lot of projects in the Tabletop Games category with stretch goals which improve the quality of components, but Teratozoic will not be one of them; I've already found and selected the best quality components available and appropriate for the game. If fewer than 1,000 copies are needed, they'll be DriveThruCards' Premium cards (Arjo-Wiggins Playper 305gsm matte with blackcore layer), and if we exceed that number, the overseas manufacturer I've been in contact with will use the same exact card stock—if the project is wildly more successful than that, I certainly won't consider anything lower quality. Also, again under ~1k copies, the boxes will be double-deck tuck boxes from the highest quality POD printer I could find, printed on their stiffest board (14pt), while my overseas manufacturer will give only slightly better results and slightly thicker board (15pt). For the rules I went through several options during development but the highest-quality option I could find was having 3.5x5" rule booklets printed, so that's what I'm including in the game; I could have gone with the cheaper option of 11x17" color copies, folded down to fit the tuck boxes, but as with seeking out the best color reproduction, printing, card stock, and box, I only want Teratozoic to be the best I can offer.

Consequently, there are no stretch goals for this project.

((In an earlier iteration, the game only featured 2 main colors of monsters. I was thinking the orange monsters (and support for a 5th & 6th player) would be an expansion/add-on, and further thought I'd make it a stretch goal (among many considered stretch goals) to add the expansion to everyone's reward. As with the quality of components (explained above) I decided to do what's best for the game and include all 3 main colors of monsters with every copy. It gives more variety, makes the game more fun, and does so even if the campaign gets a mere $2k in pledges.))

I'm planning on personally shipping every copy by USPS, and I've included the cost of domestic shipping in every tier. I am not planning on paying extra for tracking. (We could make that a stretch goal, if backers demand it.) I've calculated the cost of shipping to dozens of countries and can afford to ship everywhere from Australia and Brazil to the EU and Asia for roughly $10 more than it costs me to ship domestically.

If you are ordering multiple copies internationally, please add $25 (total) for each additional copy of the game—the first copy of Teratozoic is $20 + $10 shipping, and each additional copy is $20 + $5 shipping. (If this isn't clear, please comment or message me with where you are and what you want to pledge for, and I'll add it up for you!)

If you are interested in pledging for an original monster painting but live outside the US, please message me with the details; we may be able to work something out. The small painting will be a lot easier than a large painting; international shipping of large boxes adds up very quickly. Please DO NOT pledge for a painting to be shipped outside the US without messaging me first.

What game reviewers are saying about Teratozoic:

"At first you’ll think it’s just about scoring the most points, and then you think it’s about making the best monsters each round, but finally you realize it’s all about gathering just the right amount of pieces so you can form the perfect monster and go out with a bang! Teratozoic ended up being more fun than I thought after the first game." – Griff, Dice. Card. Go!

"The rules are super easy to grasp, and can be read as you play your first game. I was able to teach my 2 oldest kids how to play in about 10 minutes without many questions on their part, and very little rules referencing as we went along with our game. ... Overall the game is highly entertaining, intelligent, and has a bit of a different spin that other deck building games I’ve played. It’s a game that I can see having a lasting place in my collection, and one that I’m sure I’ll keep enjoying with my children time and time again." — Robert, Purple Pawn

Hunter, Weaponsgrade Tabletop:

"The art reminds me a lot of a Dr. Seuss type thing. ... It's an interesting little game, I've got to say; I've done a lot of deck-building game reviews recently... and this one's got probably the most unique mechanism I've seen. ... I do like the mechanics in it. The art is hilarious... we had some laugh-out-loud moments in this game—even in funny games it doesn't always happen that often, in this one it really does. I think that says a lot about it. I really did enjoy it—I liked it enough to pack it and bring it with us on this trip." – Hunter

"The game scales very well with different player counts. The major adjustment is made to the number of Era cards used in the game. This allows the game to be played as little as fifteen minutes to over an hour but still get the same experience. Very few games have this much flexibility." – Tyler, Board Game Quest

Jeff & Megan, All Us Geeks:

"Overall, I think it's a good introduction to deck-building games for those of us who are more casual or younger in age. ... I have to say the artwork, I loved; it reminded me of Jim Henson's creations. ... My favorite part of the game was building monsters." – Megan 
"I do like the twist on deck-building in this. I thought that was kind of interesting. The first couple times seeing it in action was like, 'Ooh, okay...' ... I liked this a lot... I thought it was a good, solid game." – Jeff 

"This is a completely unique game." – Andrew, Cards and Chit (FB link)
"I think the concept is really, really fun; the monster-building is a really good idea. ... I would introduce this to my kids. ... I could bring this into a Kindergarten or first grade classroom." – Adrian, Cards and Chit (review link)

"Changing the typical deck building mechanic of hand picking every card for your deck (think Dominion) to a highly random approach fits well with the theme." - Gregg, Cardboard Carnage

Forrest Bower, Bower's Game Corner:

"Among the six of us, none of us could think of any other game that we'd played that was similar to [Teratozoic]. ...we've probably played over a thousand different games between the six of us, so saying that this game felt unique from all 1,000 of those is a huge thumbs up!" ... "Overall, I really enjoyed Teratozoic. I think you will too if you're looking for a great family-weight game... because it's got great art work, it's super easy to learn and to teach. Even though the rule booklet makes it sound like it's going to be complex, it's actually super-simple to teach." – Bower

"Teratozoic is full of quirky art, funny monsters, and creative mechanics. This game is easily transportable, learnable, and an enjoyable time filler. The game plays well across age groups without difficulty. The construction quality of the game is very high... Each card’s unique art gives the game replay ability, as you will be hard pressed to build the same monsters game to game."Brent Brewer, backer of Teratozoic

"The cards themselves, are of a very high quality, and to be honest the art work displayed on the Kickstarter page does not do justice to how nice it looks in the flesh. A lot of thought has gone into this design, and it really does show. ... Overall this is a very solid game, and does have a lot of replayability, especially if the players who are playing are on the same level. There are a surprising amount of tactics involved in it, which I didn’t glean from watching the tutorial videos prior to playing." – Oscar Russell, We The Nerdy

Brandon & Christopher, Noobsource:

"It really feels like 'What if Monsters, Inc. and Spore got together and made a game.'" – Christopher

"The art in the game is very simple, but effective. Clean line art and bold colors against a white background creates a great contrast allowing the monsters to pop off the card and provide the most obvious and only focus... ...the execution is nicely done. Each monster part matches up neatly with one another making it easy to visualize the fluffy, bug-eyed, tentacle monsters you create. ... You’ll have to find a balance between holding onto your higher-value cards for the deck-building portion of the game while collecting specific colors and parts for the end-game clincher." – Biff, The League of Nonsensical Gamers

"The use of Eras is interesting, allowing players to slowly fine-tune their decks into having increasingly potent and valuable monsters. ... The nature of Teratozoic is quite simple, and the rules are accessible for children and adults alike. ... The theme works particularly well, as evolution makes the best out of a post-humanity cesspool by going from a highly unpredictable random central deck to a much more structured set of cards – and the beings created from them." – Ryan, The Cardboard Republic

"Strategy in Teratozoic, then, jumps around a bit. You have to know when to hold back cards, which cards to keep for your gene pool, which cards to take from the board. Point values that help you win a round won’t necessarily help you win the game. ... Plays equally well with few or many players. The designers anticipated how the rules would have to change for different scenarios. ... Bonus cards keep play interesting, so every round isn’t just counting and scoring." – Mike Eaton, Play Unplugged

You should pledge because I do not plan to pursue traditional distribution (i.e.: selling at retail), and will not be ordering many extra copies to sell directly. I'm planning to order enough copies to cover backer orders and manufacturing & shipping errors, and once every backer has their reward I'll be selling any left-overs directly, but once they're gone, they're gone, and there won't be many extra to begin with. Basically: If you want a copy of Teratozoic, this Kickstarter will be the only way to ensure that you get one.

Additionally, if the base funding goal isn't reached, Teratozoic will at best be available via POD at DriveThruCards—with no box and no rule book, you'll have to box it yourself & print your own copy of the rules, and it'll still probably be about $20 (plus S/H). Pledging helps the best possible version of the game get created, and it ensures you'll get a copy of that version.

Finally, your pledge helps support the creation of future games. I've kept the base goal low because my priority is getting Teratozoic out there, even if it means not making a meaningful profit in the process—but the more people who pledge, and who pledge at higher tiers, the more money I'll be able to invest in future projects. I've worked hard within a limited budget to make Teratozoic the best game I can, and with a very successful campaign I'll be able to further develop some of my more ambitious ideas—like the woody little worker-placement/fighting game and the epic story-driven (Trek-like) SciFi dungeon crawler I've been working on while Teratozoic has been out with reviewers.

Risks and challenges

While I have over a decade's experience producing print-ready files for my books, I've been working with card and box printers for less than a year. Much of my experience carries over, and I've been ordering a lot of proofs/prototypes to be sure that everything comes out the way I expect, but it's still entering a new medium, with new challenges. Additionally, for volumes between 50 and about 1,000 copies I plan on working with SuperiorPOD for production of the game's tuck boxes and rule books—I've been happy with their output and have had some success communicating with them, but I'm aware there are horror stories floating around the web, and it's certainly possible there could be problems, delays, or even changes in the specs of the final product if things don't work out with them.

And while I have a lifetime of experience assembling, packing and shipping hundreds to thousands of packages a day, I'm still planning on doing the majority of the work myself, and I'm just one person. I'm sure my wife and friends will offer to help, but it's possible that shipping will take longer than expected—especially if there are thousands of backers, or lots of international backers. Knowing the scale of the project as soon as funding closes, I expect to be able to effectively estimate and communicate to backers any possible delays due to increased scale.

Communication is key; I've backed projects that are great at communicating changes, challenges, and delays, and I've backed projects that go silent for months when you're expecting a delivery or at least an email—and I plan to keep backers up-to-date with information every step of the way. If things don't go exactly as planned (and even if they do!), backers will know about it through project updates.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Thanks / Print-and-Play PDF –
    Everyone gets access to the PnP PDF of the entire game.

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    One Monster – Receive at least 5 semi-random monster-part cards (I'll do my best to match your choice of green, orange, purple, or mixed) from my prototype decks; enough to build one complete monster.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The Game –
    Receive 1 copy of Teratozoic.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    The Game (Preview Edition), shipped faster – Receive 1 copy of the Preview Edition of Teratozoic (the same version sent to reviewers and pictured on this project page, v0.9), shipped as soon as funding clears Amazon.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    Small Hand-Painted Monster – Receive 1 copy of Teratozoic plus an original 8x10" painting of your favorite (small) Teratozoic monster or any Teratozoic monster-part.

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    Pledge $399 or more About $399

    Large Hand-Painted Monster –
    Receive 1 copy of Teratozoic plus an original painting of your favorite Teratozoic monster or monster-part, up to 24x36".

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Funding period

- (26 days)