Star Patrol: Carrier Commander is a tabletop game that is small, fun, and easy to transport, and can be printed, packaged, and mailed anywhere in the world for $3 USD. I created this game by working backwards from that price point, figuring out the size and weight limitations to be able to mail it anywhere in the world at the cheapest possible rate, and then setting the leftover amount per game as my production budget.
In this two-player tabletop game, each person controls a starcraft carrier and its six squadrons of fighters and bombers. Players take turns launching their squadrons, dogfighting in space, launching torpedoes at the enemy carrier, and escaping back to their own mothership. There, they reload, refuel, and line up on the flight deck to launch on another mission.
Parts of the Game: Carrier Commander will consist of a board printed on a single 14 pt card, with the rules printed on the back and the counters printed on the left and right margins to save space and printing cost. The board, rules, and counters will all be available as print & play .pdf as well.
Each side has:
- 1 frigate - a support ship that maintains a defensive line against incoming enemy fighters and bombers, and can help recover damaged ships
- 3 starfighters - starships that are purpose-built for shooting down enemy fighters, but can be used to torpedo the enemy mothership at need
- 3 torpedo boats - heavy attack starships that are purpose-built for taking out the mothership, but can be used to shoot down enemy fighters at need
Breakdown of Expenses: The minimum print run is 250 copies. Here is the line item breakdown of cost per game. Note: I collected quotes from 22 printers before figuring out how I could do this; this itemized list is as good as inexpensive as I can possibly make it. Here is the exact breakdown, using the heaviest and most expensive contents from the stretch goals. Obviously, if we don't hit those stretch goals, it will be a bit lighter and a bit cheaper. Also, as volume goes up, the per-unit cost goes down (except the postage and Kickstarter fees, which are fixed).
- Kickstarter & Credit Card Fees $0.300 (0.000 oz)
- 24 pt Board @ 4"x9" (102mmx229mm) $0.340 (0.445 oz)
- 100# Rule Sheet @ 4"x9" (102mmx229mm) $0.171 (0.223 oz)
- International Postage for Letter @ 1 oz $1.200 (0.010 oz)
- #10 Tyvek Envelope $0.348 (0.110 oz)
- Address Processing $0.380 (0.000 oz)
- 2 mil Zip Lock Bag @ 4"x9" (102mmx229mm) $0.140 (0.110 oz)
TOTAL - $2.879 (0.898 oz)
So if all stretch goals are unlocked, we'll squeak in under the weight limit (probably the single most important part of the whole project, as increased weight means higher postage cost) and the per-game cost will still be under the $3 pledge level.
This game requires one 6-sided die. Players roll the die on their turn and have a number of options available to them according to the result. Some numbers give you multiple options, so you'll have to choose which to do.
- 1-3 Activate a Squadron - Advance a launched squadron this many spaces towards the enemy carrier. If the squadron is within this many spaces of the enemy carrier, it fires a torpedo at the enemy then turns and begins the trip home.
- 3-5 Activate the Carrier - Advance a squadron one space in your own carrier. Squadrons need to be recovered upon arrival, then moved from the flight deck to the hangar bay to be refueled and rearmed, then returned to the flight deck for launch.
- 5-6 Activate the Frigate - Move the frigate one space in either direction. The frigate acts as a support ship, shooting at enemy spacecraft and repairing damaged friendly spacecraft.
Each starship counter is double sided. One side has a squadron at full strength, the other has the squadron damaged. Damaged squadrons cannot move or shoot, but they still occupy that space on the board. If your frigate can get to them in time, the squadron can be repaired and continue its mission. If any enemy gets a hit on a damaged squadron, it is destroyed and removed from the game. The first player to eliminate all enemy squadrons from the game wins.
The margin on this game is thin enough that I can't open up my other games as add-ons just yet. If I did, we'd run the risk of unlocking a stretch goal because of the funding level, but not actually being able to afford it because the money that would have paid for it instead needs to pay for other games.
But what Ican do is let backers add additional copies of Carrier Commander for $3 each. You can add any number of copies you want, it could be one additional game, it could be 21 additional games. This will effectively turn one backer into multiple backers, because the games will mail separately in individual envelopes. Unless, of course, I can find some newfangled way to squeeze multiple games into a single envelope and not go insane trying to keep thousands of backer incentives organized and accurate. For now, they'll mail separately.
- Kickstarter Crowdfunding - Friday, September 4 - Sunday, September 27
- Funds Deposited - estimated Monday, October 12
- Print Run Commissioned - estimated Tuesday, October 13
- Print Run Shipped - estimated Tuesday, October 20
- Print Run Arrives - estimated Monday, October 26
- Incentives Mailed - estimated Tuesday, October 27
- USA Incentives Delivered - estimated beginning Wednesday, October 28 (In the past, 97% of USA incentives have been delivered within a week, but I've had USPS take up to 23 days.)
- Foreign Incentives Delivered - estimated beginning Tuesday, November 3 (In the past, most European incentives arrived in 5-7 days, Spain and Italy in 6-9 days, the rest of the world 10-16 days; Australia and Canada can take up to a month, Argentina can take two months.)
UNLOCKED! - Upgrade Board to 16 pt Cardstock: 14 pt is about normal for trading cards and card games, and a bit thicker than normal playing cards. But it's kind of thin for a board. When we reach this level of funding, I'll be able to upgrade the board from 14 pt to 16 pt card stock.
UNLOCKED!! - Upgrade Board to 24 pt Card Stock: Now we're talking! I've got samples from the printer, and this is good stuff. Whereas the 14 and even 16 pt stocks can be difficult to handle, this card stock is thick enough that you'll be able to manipulate it, grip the edges, and flip it, unlike the thinner stock, where you sometimes have to push it to the edge or up against something to get a handle on it.
UNLOCKED!!! - Upgrade to Separate 24 pt Board & Counters and 100# Rules Sheet: Having the rules on the back of the board saves money, but it can be a pain in the neck, until you've played a few games and have them more or less memorized. At this level, I can afford to have the rules printed separately from the board, and the counters, too. That means that you won't have to worry about messing up the board with a bad cutting job on the counters.
UNLOCKED!!!! - Add a 2 mil Zip Lock Bag: Sometimes the local post offices aren't too careful with your mail. Sometimes it gets wet. (Too bad all the junk mail seems to arrive in perfect shape, though, right?) At this funding level I will purchase zip lock bags in bulk and all games will be packed and mailed in a bag for protection against the elements.
UNLOCKED!!!!! - New Missions & Counters: At this funding level, the volume discount will make expanding the game affordable. Carrier Commander will grow from a single mission game (Carrier v. Carrier) with two teams of 7 counters to a three-mission game (Asteroids! Trench Run) with two teams of 15 counters, overlays to turn carriers into bases or freespace, and new options such as defense towers, asteroids, mines, dropships, space marines, civilian space trains, and AWACs. It also adds the ability to "charge up" your forces by calling Flight Quarters, Shields Up, or Admiral on the Bridge.
UNLOCKED!!!!!! - Gloss Laminated Counter Sheet & Resized for DVD Case: At this level, I can upgrade the counters to a gloss laminated sheet. This will increase the longevity of your game and help protect it from the ravages of time and handling. The downside is that the board will be slightly thinner to make up for the weight of the laminate, but you handle the counters a lot more than you handle the board, so that's a smart trade, right? Also, the gloss will help those colors pop. Another great thing about this stretch is that by switching to the more expensive printer, it opens up different sizing options, including (drum roll) one that is just about perfect for a DVD case. I won't be able to mail the cases to you, but if you want to store your game in one and have an extra, here it is. I'll even work up a cover for you to print out and slip in.
UNLOCKED!!!!!!! - Another $3 game!: This is where the heat-bonded lamination stretch goal breaks out of single digit cents and turns a profit in the double digits again. So if we hit this funding level, I will consider this both a creative success and a financial success, and I will commit to creating another $3 game. I don't know what it is, yet ... but I'll commit to doing another one.
Pocket Option Games was started by me (C. S. Ferguson) to revitalize microgames. Board games have had a colossal increase in size, weight, and price, so much that many people can't afford them. In 1977, Metagaming Concepts introduced microgames: a hex map, a counter sheet, and a rule booklet, all in a ziplock bag for $2.95. They were accessible, playable, and portable. Unfortunately, Metagaming went bankrupt after 9 years. Pocket Option Games picks up where they left off. $2.95 in 1977 adjusts for inflation to $11.62 in 2015. So I'm creating small, lightweight, fun games that can be produced and delivered worldwide for $11.62. Slip a game under the cover of a book, in the corner of a handbag, or into a jacket pocket. That's what makes these pocket options. Take a look!
Risks and challenges
1) Project must fund. (duh)
2) I must remain sound of mind and body. (likely)
3) Printer & postal service must stay in business. (even more likely)
- (23 days)