Edit: Action Phase Games & Indie Boards and Cards have licensed Shogunate! Stay tuned for the US Retail release of this deviously strategic card game.

Finally. It’s here. Shogunate!  After more than a year of hard work, the game is now available to the public. No crowd funding, no waiting, no stalking the mailbox or waiting for an update. It’s physically here on a shelf beside me, waiting to be shipped to its new home. Amazing. Also, I need a nap.

Here’s a look at the leaders on our boss playmat. Notice the color coded card backs for the action cards visible there to the left. Just a little gift from me to you. Makes 2nd and 3rd games super quick to set up.  OH! and the box holds all the cards SLEEVED if’n you’re so inclined.

Shogunate Leaders

Shogunate card game, finished!

More updates to come. Why didn’t we crowd fund? How are we printing? Who shot Analise?  More to come!

Stonemaier Games Design Day 2015

Stonemaier Games Design Day 2015

Wow, what a weekend! Saturday we enjoyed what I have dubbed the most passionate day in gaming. It was a bit overwhelming actually.

Stonemaier Games graciously hosted a design day for budding game designers and game aficionados and it was EPIC.  Why? Well, even when you go to a con you are surrounded by fellow geeks – but these geeks were MY geeks.  To be in a room FILLED with people who love games like I love games is tremendous. Truly tremendous. I met so many folks who love the minutia of board games, who get excited about mechanics, who love ALL types of games. I can’t say enough about how wonderful the attendees were!

Design Day 2015

Design Day 2015


So I ran my game 21 times. 21! Twenty-one. In the first session (!) my last (knock-on-wood) balancing hurdle was solved, and by an off-handed remark.  The kind that makes you literally smack your head and exclaim, “Well, duh.”  Boom. Done.  I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how Shogunate faired at DD in my next post, but for now let’s talk about prototypes!

Shogunate on the table at Design Day 2015

Shogunate on the table at Design Day 2015


There were all manner of prototypes there. All with different themes, levels of art and craftsmanship. Collectively, DG played 6 prototypes and had a blast. A few of the games were nearly production ready and will be picked up by us as soon as they are released.  Some needed work, so we worked on them.  There was furious note taking, brainstorming, and theme rejiggering going on at nearly every session. All the hard work put into these games is a legendary feat. The level of creativity and generosity in the room was just breathtaking.


Friends are great, but where playtesting really bears fruit is with a group of generous, like-minded strangers. The thoughtfulness and intuition displayed by the playtesters was AMAZING.  These weren’t “I don’t like it” or “it’s too slow” type commenters, oh no! What designers got were in-depth conversations on what SPECIFIC changes might make the game better, whole paragraphs of non-judgmental and truly helpful suggestions and advice.

Design Day 2015

Design Day 2015


Once again, thanks to Stonemaier Games for a truly worthwhile and enjoyable weekend. In one day we shaved a month off our design time for Shogunate. More than that, the day went smoothly, everything was communicated well, and the space was perfect.  The new friends and sound advice are the best part! Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this possible.  Well done!





Earning Trust on KickStarter

I’ve taken a break from Ventures in the Void for a moment to focus on the business plan for Dreadful Games. There are a few reason why. An alternate title for this post: Is Your Project Ready For Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a viable business strategy, but it needs to be treated as such. I am not quitting my day job, and therefore don’t need my games to sustain me. My goal remains to put my games in the hands of gamers; no fortune and glory – just smiles and good times. Since I won’t be setting crowdfunding goals with the intention to make any profit, I need to make a business plan that is sustainable on community goodwill and trust.

In a previous post I talked about revamping a game that I thought was ready. That accounts for the time delay for VitV. I’m happy to report that the new mechanic is working beautifully and the game is quickly approaching my fun threshold. Yay! Very excited about that!

The second reason though I think might be the more important of the two. After accepting that my game would not make its KS debut in the timeframe I had envisioned, it was easy to accept that the following was true. VitV will require a large (to me at least) goal. I don’t feel that asking digital acquaintances to contribute such a large sum when I am essentially “untested” is the best idea. Caveat: I DO believe in VitV and am absolutely passionate about it and think it will succeed on its own merits. It’s just that with so many creators turning to crowdfunding, I really want to earn trust and credibility.


So here’s my plan: I am going to run 4 projects in the next year and a half. The first of which goes live this week. Why so many?

Project 1: Baby Goal Project: Gaming Posters. I’m a graphic artist and work in a print shop. I am going to leverage the assets I have, in an environment I can control, to deliver rewards I know the community will like. I want to exceed expectations. The way for me to do that is to create a kickstarter that I know 100% I can complete, kick butt at, deliver on time, AND is related to my company’s goals. [Things I’ll get practice at: KS itself, backer updates, shipping, logistics, marketing]

Project 2: Thinking Small Goals: Micro Game. I have a working, fun, mechanically elegant micro game that serious and casual gamers love. This project requires 14 pieces of original art and consists of only 30 cards, a box, and rules. This goal is much smaller than Ventures in the Void could ever hope of being. This game only lacks art and layout from being ready for production. Weight and size wise, this game will be able to ship 1st class and make shipping easier. This will be my first KS with stretch goals. Goals include: 7 extra cards to extend the game to 5 players, a TIN instead of a cardstock box OR a cloth sack instead of a box. [NEW Things I’ll get practice at: stretch goals, commissioning an artist (I do this for my day job, but never for myself), box creation, distributors and retail sales]

Project 3: Medium Goal Card Game: Full Deck Game. This project is also in the works, though nowhere near ready for a KS campaign. (which is fine because I have a year) The card game consists of 52-60 cards, a box, rules and requires 12 pieces of original art. More than double the size of the microgame, this full deck+ game will require a larger box (planning on a side-by-side like Sushi Go!), more extensive rules, but less art. One reward tier may entail custom text (but not art) chosen by the backer. [NEW Things I’ll get Practice At: backer participation in game crafting, custom box/tin making, buying and registering a barcode, distribution and retail sales]

Now by this time, I will have delivered two games to backers. Hopefully I will have exceeded their expectations on delivery speed and component quality. The biggest hope: they love the games! Now, if all goes well, I have the TRUST of the KS community and the gaming community by following through on what I say I will do, being completely transparent in my project updates, and finally by delivering them a product that not only meets their expectations but puts a smile on their face and lets them share good times with friends and family.


THEN, and only then will it be time for Ventures in the Void to hit KS and backer’s screens across the globe. I’ll have loads more information and lessons under my belt. I’ll run a smooth campaign with all the right combinations of stretch goals, delivery deadlines, information, and bring the best product that I possibly can to the community.

Project 4: Big Box Game!

So there you go. Without the bullet points and addendums, there is Dreadful Games game plan for the next year and a half. (pun intended)

Who is Dreadful Games?


Dreadful games is a board game company currently in the process of playtesting, polishing, and publishing three original games.  Like you, we also have multitudes of ideas on the “back burner” just waiting for their time in the sun as well.

Located just outside Memphis, TN (woo-hoo Elvis!), Dreadful Games is the fruition of years of “what if”, “maybe”, and “someday.” Started by a husband and wife team, DG draws from nearly two decades of printing, graphic art, and design experience. We are lucky to have fantastic art and manufacturing contacts that allow us to bring these games out of the cobweb covered recesses of our minds and jerk them kicking and screaming in to the physical world.

Thank you for joining us on this sojourn. In the following posts we’ll share our technical knowledge and the helpful resources we come across as well as what I am sure to be the many mistakes we make along the way. I hope we can help you get your game beautiful, printed, and into our (and the rest of the world’s) eager hands.