Category Archives: Card Games

i.hate.everyone

Not too long ago I was in contact with a game publisher who was interested in a game in the general style of Cards Against Humanity, a tasteless drinking game type of thing. I got a good start designing and testing such a game, but the publisher went with something else. I don’t bear them any ill will (I will admit to being disappointed), but I like the game I created enough to want to share it. I may eventually pursue publication, but I have enough other projects going on that without a publisher lined up I’m going to shelve it for the time being.

i.hate.everyone is a game of social media whoring. It follows the query/response from a card format of Apples to Apples and CAH, but everyone plays a response, and everyone votes by giving a Like token to the player whose response they liked best. Cards can also have special effects, ranging from reading cards in a French accent to various shenanigans with the cards. For me and my friends the silliness with drawing and discarding cards fixes the single biggest issue with the game’s predecessors, namely the tendency to get stuck with a lousy hand.

I picked the name “i.hate.everyone” partly because I feel it conveys about the right sentiment, and partly because it leaves it wide open for expansions and alternate versions called “i.hate.[something].” I already started on one called i.hate.fandom, which was the game I was kinda sorta thinking about doing before the aforementioned publisher came into the picture.

To play you’ll need to print out the cards on cardstock, preferably with a different color for the Status Cards, and you’ll need a decent supply of tokens of some kind. I find bingo chips or sorting chips work well, but pretty much anything will do as long as you have at least 100 or so. You can also pretty seamlessly shuffle them in with the print and play version of CAH if you want.

Players: 3-8
Play Time: 30+ minutes
Recommended for Ages 17+

i.hate.everyone Rules PDF
i.hate.everyone Status Cards PDF
i.hate.everyone Comment Cards PDF

Channel A: OAV Edition

Channel A is now available for purchase through The Game Crafter for $35 plus shipping. I’m calling this the “OAV Edition,” the idea being that there’s a progression from manga (the black and white PNP version) to a short OAV series to a full TV anime series. I’m hoping to do proper release by way of a non-POD printing to get the price down, but the OAV Edition is available for the people who want the game right now. The set comes in one of their basic game boxes (which admittedly isn’t great for storing lots of cards), and includes 200 Title Cards, 80 Premise Cards, and 30 Vote Cards, plus a printout of the rules.

As mentioned in my last post, I also put together two expansions–Channel A: Second Season and A-Soft–which I’ve also made available, for $15 each. Second Season is a set of 108 new Title Cards, while A-Soft has 68 Title Cards and a set of 40 “Genre Cards” to make the game about pitching video games instead of anime.

Channel A
Channel A: Second Season
Channel A: A-Soft

From here I’m going to be aiming to publish a more professional version of Channel A, either by way of a Kickstarter or maybe through a board game publisher if I can find one that would be a good fit. In either case this will be after even more playtesting and getting a proper graphic designer (most likely Clay Gardner) to improve on my design work. I’ll be making very little money from the OAV Edition, so if you order it you should do so because it’s a game you can’t wait to play. (It is IMHO a really fun game though!) If you just want money to flow my way (some people have said as much, which is flattering to say the least), the eventual more professional version will be a better way to accomplish that because margins and stuff. (Though sharing the game with lots of people will help me out in the long run too.)

Channel A Update

Channel A is just sort of rocketing forward, in part by virtue of it being fun and relatively easy to work on and a low-commitment game to playtest.

I put together a prototype with Photoshop and got it printed through The Game Crafter. I’m not a pro designer by any means, but sometimes I forget just how much of that sort of thing I learned in college.[1] I had been thinking in terms of it being an entirely temporary thing before Clay made the real cards, but people’s reactions to the prototype have been so good that it’s going to at least be a a starting point. Of course, one of the things I had to do was to make sure I was using fonts I could actually use, which meant a lot of checking, replacing (FontSquirrel is amazing by the way), and a few purchases/donations. In the future I’m going to try to keep the number of fonts I used on any given project in the single digits, because wow. =_= Making lots of little logos was kind of fun, but drags on after a while.

Overall TGC’s backend for putting games together is excellent. It has a lot of touches that make perfect sense, but which it would be entirely too easy for a system without the same care to leave out. For example, when you make a deck of cards you can upload a back and then batch upload the files for the faces. Being able to do the cards in individual files (rather than having to put together sheets of 18) is a godsend too. Proofing is a little time-consuming if you have lots of cards, though it’s really good for spotting potential problems with things where the cutting is more involved, like tuck boxes. The big stumbling block for me is the price, and I’m going to have to find other avenues if I’m going to sell it seriously.

The one big change I made to the rules is in how scoring works. The voting card system works pretty well, but it’s easy to get ties, especially if you have a smaller group of players. When playing with with Ben Lehman and Sushu and Jono Xia (and Jono had some kind words about it afterwards), Ben came up with the idea of breaking ties by making a hand of one O and the rest Xs and letting tied players pick at random until someone gets an O and wins the round. In the middle of the night I hit on the idea of making an uncontested win worth 2 points and a tie worth 1 point. I really like this solution for a variety of reasons. In particular, it’s quick and it just feels more fair.

Because I’m insane and have a streak of creative masochism, I’m already working on two expansions. Each one will be 108 cards in a tuck box, and I got Dawn to do two more pieces of art to go with them.

  • Second Season: This is a collection of 108 extra Title Cards. 25 of these are new “Star Cards,” which let you put in any one word from a category (flowers, fruit, mythic creatures, types of songs/poems, etc.)
  • A-Soft: This gives you a variant game about pitching video games instead of anime. It includes 40 Genre Cards (that cover different video game genres) and 68 video game themed Title Cards.

I have enough leftover ideas for Title Cards to get a good start on a third expansion, plus I have an idea for an expansion called “Japanimation Fever” or some such aimed at the style of anime parodies as done by people who know text to nothing about anime,[2] but I’m mostly shelving Channel A so I can get other stuff done.

Right now the plan is to put the game and the two expansions up for sale on TGC, mainly for some friends who want sets to take to conventions and such. The quality you get from TGC is pretty good, but it’s in the nature of POD card printing that it’s going to be a bit expensive to print 310 cards. I’m thinking about an eventual Kickstarter or otherwise doing a proper print run to sell (and thereby get the cost below $35 for a base set and $15 for the expansions), but that’s a ways off, and I need to get Golden Sky Stories dealt with first. I’m also going to put together an update PNP version of Channel A, since the philosophy of having a free basic version and a spiffy commercial version seems to work pretty well.[3]

[1]Also, I know Japanese! :V
[2]Though I’m not really sure how to put myself into that mentality anymore, apart from mentioning tentacles a lot.
[3]Also, check out Jens Alfke’s set for printing on Avery perforated cards.

Studio B PNP Prototype

As usual I’m screaming through this stuff, making a thing and flinging it onto the internet. Studio B is a variant/reskin of Channel A, but for American B-movies instead of anime. I’m specifically going for the kind of stuff that came out of the drive-in culture that sprang up because of the removal of film-making restrictions in 1948, the cheesy black and white stuff like Robot Monster, Teenagers From Outer Space, and Plan 9 From Outer Space.[1] The rules are pretty much the same as Channel A, though the part about being able to add simple articles (of, the, etc.) is going to be much more important.

Studio B Print and Play Prototype PDF

Anyway, I also have some news about Channel A. I decided to make a fancier prototype for further testing, so I assembled the necessary files in Photoshop to get it printed through The Game Crafter. I just put in the order last night, so we’ll see how it goes. Their backend for assembling a game is actually really good overall, though I do wish the proofing process was more efficient. POD printing for 310 cards makes it pretty expensive, but I’m thinking I’ll make it publicly available since some friends have expressed interest in getting sets to play at anime cons and such. And thus I lament that I’m at this point in developing the game when the convention season is pretty much over.

I’m reasonably happy with what I was able to produce on my own,[2] but for the final version I’m hoping to hire Clay Gardner to do proper graphic design. He’s done a ton of amazing work for Minion Games, not to mention Golden Sky Stories. And now that I think I’ve gotten that out of my system for now, back to working on RPG stuff!

[1]Though I’m definitely going to do an expansion for mixing in 80s cheese. I’m thinking of calling it “Studio Z.”

[2]Sometimes I forget just how much stuff about Photoshop and whatnot I learned in college. I’m definitely not a pro, but at least I have some idea what I’m doing.

Channel A: Progress Made

I now have a few playtests of Channel A under my belt, and I’ve made a few refinements. The biggest and quickest of these was letting the Producer draw a hand of 5 Premise Cards and pick two. After that, I’ve got a lot of things where I have a ton of options and it’s hard to discern which is the best.

One rather interesting thing I found out recently was the story of The Big Idea, a game originally from Cheapass Games that Funforge later re-released. Not unlike Channel A, a major part of the game is putting cards with words together to make something, in the case of TBI a silly invention. I’d played the Cheapass Games version with my brother-in-law (the one who has a wall of board games), and I hadn’t known that the newer version, along with non-cheapass production values, simplified the rules considerably. The game originally had an “investment” phase where players put currency towards different inventions, rolled dice, and got dividends if the investment/die roll worked out. The new version cuts out the investment phase entirely, making it into even more of a party game. (Is there a term specifically for card/board games that revolve around using the components to springboard into saying stuff?) It has an extra set of scoring cards, so that each player has blank cards and a medal card to hand out, face down, and that’s the extent of the evaluation/scoring mechanism.

The article also mentions that Apples to Apples was more complex before its publication, and I think that’s a good lesson to take working on this game. It’s easy and tempting to add more complexity to Channel A, say a thing where you see how your series fares on TV, but I’m increasingly sure that what I need to do is refine the core of the gameplay I already have. Aside from expanding and refining the decks,[1] the big thing I’m considering is whether to stick with the Producer setup or make what I currently have as the “Anime by Committee” variant rule (which coincidentally is closer to The Big Idea) into the default. I made a set of Voting Cards to try out the TBI method, though on paper it strikes me as a little cumbersome. I’ve updated the rules with that and some other ideas, and there’s a PDF below. I have entirely too many ideas for new Title Cards and Premise Cards, but I’ll get into that stuff later.

Voting Cards PDF
Channel A Rules (Alpha 2)
Bonus Title Cards

Update: I made a Channel A page and posted up another revised set.

My friend Suichi made a rather interesting observation about me as a designer, which is that where he thinks in terms of numbers and hard mechanics, I tend to think more in terms of the human interactions and how they shape the game. It’s why I came up with a game like Channel A where he never would have. I think I play RPGs for the interaction and in-the-moment creativity as given a springboard by the rules, which goes a long way towards explaining why the card games I really like, and the one I’m designing, are basically just vehicles for that.

…Though if you get all the expansions you can call it “11 Wonders.”

Last week I got together with some friends for what turned out to be an afternoon of board gaming. We played Cards Against Humanity, playtested Channel A, and then played 7 Wonders. It was really, really strange playing a Euro board game on the heels of CAH and CA, since we went from “Make an anime about vampires racing!” to “So I need to spend 2 Gold to buy lumber from Aaron.” It was very much the polar opposite, a thoroughly mechanistic if incredibly well-designed game, and in the Ewen/Suichi dichotomy definitely more of a Suichi type game.

[1]There’s also the possibility of later reskinning the game to have it be for video games or American cartoons, though I don’t know of anything with titles quite as over the top as anime.

Channel A: Alpha Prototype

To say that I’ve been inspired lately would be an understatement. The day after I posted up my Cards Against Humanity expansions, I thought about what I would do in the way of a friendlier original card game in the same general “using cards to make jokes” kind of style. The premise that resulted is a game I’m tentatively calling “Channel A” where you assemble cards to make titles of anime series.

One player is the Producer, and he or she plays two Premise Cards, with things like “School Romance” and “Giant Robots Fighting.” The other players each have 10 Title Cards, which have bits of anime titles like Perfect, EX, Penguin, Galaxy, etc. Each player tries to assemble an anime title from the cards and give a brief pitch for a series with that title that fits the Producer’s premise. The Producer picks a winner for that round, and then you rotate Producers and keep going.

It’s admittedly a bit derivative–it came from this fury of inspiration from CAH and there’s some of The Big Idea in there too–but I’m okay with that for my first attempt at card game design ever. I don’t know if I’ll make a habit out of it, but I’m definitely jazzed about this particular game.

For the initial prototype print and play version I used 2″x2″ cards like CAH, mostly because printing 20 cards per page makes life easier. Yesterday I roped some friends into a playtest with just the Title Cards (on account of I hadn’t finished the Premise Cards), and it was a lot of fun. I’m also tempted to start recording sessions to preserve some of the nifty ideas it produces.

Channel A (Alpha Prototype) PDF Download

Update: Some more on the game, including revised rules, in this blog post.

Update Again: I made a Channel A page and posted up another revised set.

If you want to make a deck, get the PDF printed on heavy cardstock and carefully cut out the cards. You can get a clear plastic box to keep them in at places like The Container Store or Tap Plastics. I’m looking for feedback both on how it plays and on elements to include in the cards (and the cards’ contents are just the sort of thing where I expect plenty of people to have opinions on what I’ve left out).

Cards Against Humanity

I don’t normally go in for card or board games, but Cards Against Humanity works entirely too well for me. It’s basically Apples to Apples with weird and twisted shit on the cards. One person plays a question card, everyone else plays an answer card, the first person picks their favorite, the person who played the favorite card gets a point, repeat.

A few hours after playing the first time I hit on the idea of making my own expansion full of stuff from anime fandom called “Weeaboo Bullshit.” The next day I started working on it, and also came up with another expansion of RPG stuff called “Grognards Against Humanity.” These only really work if you know their respective fandoms reasonably well (the Grognards set will make the most sense if you follow grognards.txt and RPGnet in-jokes), though the official CAH sets also have some specific/topical stuff in them.[1] Cards Against Humanity is recommended for ages 17+, and I tried to keep in the general spirit of that, so the Weeaboo expansion especially has some… unsavory stuff in it. At some point I might have to see about making a friendlier card game in the general CAH/Apples to Apples/Dixit/Once Upon a Time style, more about laughter and creativity than game mechanics.

CAH’s First Expansion has 100 cards, but each of my expansions has 108 cards, basically because I want to get full-sized versions printed for myself to go with the set I got from Amazon, and most POD printers do cards in increments of 18. The particular Creative Commons license they used means I can’t sell them, but whenever I get around to getting those ready I’ll post up the files so you can get your own made if you want. OTOH the CC license means you can do whatever you like with my cards too, as long as it’s non-commercial and you give credit.[2]

Here are the PDFs. They’re in the same format as the print and play version from the CAH website; follow the instructions on the first page of that one to print these.

Weeaboo Bullshit PDF
Grognards Against Humanity PDF

I also put together a set of tiff files for getting the cards printed via Superior POD so that they match the commercially available CAH set. Go to their Poker Size Custom Card Decks page and upload the tiff files (there are instructions in the rar file). Each 108-card expansion will cost $9.24 plus (rather expensive) shipping. I’m pretty happy with the results (you can see some photos here), though now my CAH mega-set (with the two official expansions and my two expansions) is about 1,000 cards.

Weeaboo Bullshit/Grognards Against Humanity tiff Files

Also, here are some other CAH resources:

[1]OpalCat’s page linked below suggests an optional rule that you can discard a card you don’t understand, but only after reading it aloud to the rest of the group.

[2]Speaking of credit, Clay Gardner gave some nice suggestions as I was finishing up the Grognards set.