I have this game idea: It’s a worker placement game where you’re overseeing a heist on a casino while other gangs are trying to do the same thing. There are a few ideas I like here, where the board is made up of a set of cards, which means it changes from game to game, and where and how you get to the locations for placement are in turn influenced by the movement of security guards between the cards.
What this game wants is a small number of cards: Right now it’s as few as fourteen possible cards to make a 9-card grid. It wants to have space between them, the cards have suits and behave a bit like poker hands, whatever. The point is, that it’s a small number of cards, but it needs ways to mark where you, the player, have put your workers.
Also, the workers have hidden information.
Now normally if you have something with hidden information, you use something with two faces: A card, duh, right? The problem is that putting a card on a card obscures a lot of that card’s information – and you need that information to make decisions about where things are. Moving other players’ cards might accidentally reveal things and it’d be a lot easier to put/move smaller tokens around.
Simply: This game wants tokens. Heck, this right here is nonsense, really: I should be in a position to say this design uses tokens without having to justify it!
I do most of my printing of card games through DriveThruCards. They are not a perfect printer service. I don’t know what a perfect service would look like – though I guess they’d be much more local and I wouldn’t have to pay international shipping and wait three weeks for my product to arrive for when I wanted to sell it face-to-face. That sucks (for me).
Still, I like DriveThruCards. The staff are nice and they’ve been very helpful with problems we have. I’m familiar with the tools and they have all my games on catalogue (with one exception). They work. There are, however, things th at they don’t do. In this case, what I’m thinking about is tokens.
The place I normally use for tokens is GameCrafter, where we made Skulk. It’s a good place for its kind of work, but if I put it there I need to do bulk orders of hundreds of games, and with only one game at a time there, I simply can’t afford it. The best sales I get are in person, where I can show a person my game and watch them buy it.
That means the sites are not worthwhile as markets, but rather as production fronts. It’s ridiculous. On the other hand, their tokens are really good: I like them a lot. One idea is to make the whole game there, and instead of buying a box, putting the game in a single nice bag like this:
This bag is about 5 by 4 inches; it’s light, it’s soft. It also, crucially, does not sit on a bookshelf neatly, and that’s something that Fox doesn’t like, and I also am sympathetic to that position. Still, there’s a definite appeal to a bag with some tokens and some cards that unpacks into a bigger, complicated game with a euro-game style thinking-building play style. It’d be affordable too – somewhere around $15-$20, which puts it around the level of our mid-cost card games.
I like our tuck boxes, which are standardised sizes, all cardboard, recycleable and give me room to put more designs and information. I like our tucks. The problem with the tucks is that they’re made at DriveThru. DriveThru gives me tuckboxes and bulk ordering and … no tokens. Now, I’ve done some testing! I can fit this game and all its tokens into the box quite easily, though then we meet a new problem: DriveThru doesn’t offer tokens.
There is a solution, one I’ve used for Wobbegong-12: That game comes with a card you cut into pieces to make tokens, and they live in the box you keep the game in. That would work, except there we have two new problems! First, the pieces would be cut up by end users, which mean that keeping tokens the exact same size and therefore, avoid giving away information to other players is hard, and second, there are some players resistant to the idea of cutting up cards. Bonus, I don’t know if those players are people who buy or want to buy our stuff, so… that’s hard to know how to judge.
This is a real pickle for me. This is also really frustrating because I like this game idea and I’d like to keep working on it. What complicates this further is that I can’t really get a good, useful response on how to approach this problem. Part of this is because there are people who would never buy this game who would still have opinions on how it ‘should’ work, and people who don’t know what the game is trying to do with equally firm opinions!
This is a really tricky place to be. It might just get the idea put on the shelf again, which would bum me out because I really like the idea. If Gamecrafter had a vibrant community, or wasn’t so expensive to ship around, I might try it out; if DriveThru did simple cut tokens, that would be perfect. Yet, neither are true, and so here I am, stuck with my tuck and my tokens.
This is the kind of thing you need to take into account when looking into your making process. How do you get your stock? Do you want stock? Do you just want to get access to tangible copies of what you’ve made? Can you split your sources? Can you afford to split your sources?