April 10th, 2022

More Conventions, More Prototypes

If you wanted to check out Scourge of the High Seas, but the conventions were not near you, never fear. I will be at both Origins Game Fair and GenCon this year as well!

I will be running demos and have some giveaways at Origins June 8-12. I will have a booth promoting Scourge of the High Seas in the entrepreneur section of the exhibitor hall. Stop by and check out the game.

In addition, I will also be at GenCon at the Studio2 booth August 4-7. I am partnering with Outland Entertainment and will be at their table periodically throughout the weekend. I do not yet have a schedule, but when I know more, I will post an update. At the very least, stop by and if I am there, I would be absolutely thrilled to chat and show the game wherever we can find a spot. GenCon will be a little bit ad-hoc since this is a bit late in the planning process for that convention. But being there will be a huge opportunity. I hope to see you there.

Pirates with Lasers

While scheduling convention plans, I am also working through the rules and will be sending them out for initial feedback. The game is at the stage for blind playtesting and for that I need more prototypes. I went back to the local Makerspace and began cutting new pieces. These pieces are hopefully closer to the final product and I really like them. They look great and I think they add some really nice style without compromising the requirement for keeping the risk and surprise of pulling tokens from the bag during combat. One of the surprising parts of developing Scourge is realizing that design and style could actually impact gameplay, especially during combat.

comparing crew tokens to standard meeples

I posted on Facebook to hear what people felt about the design and this is the current winner. What surprised me the most was that it was well over 95% in favor of this design instead of The other option of the pirate being blue and the background not having a color. I would have thought it would be closer to 60-40 or 70-30 in favor of one style or the other. Next step is to try and make these producible. I need to make stamps out of these designs and see how I can reproduce this artwork consistently. I will update when I have the next step working.

— Dustin

March 24th, 2022

Conventions, Conventions, Conventions

A big update this month full of conventions this Spring and Summer. As mentioned previously, we are quickly filling up a bunch of gaming conventions this year leading up to a crowdfunding launch this fall. Below are the dates and details.

  • April 22-24 Planet Comic Con, Kansas City, MO
    • Will be demoing at the Outland Entertainment booth at various times throughout the weekend. But if we are not demoing when you stop by, talk to us and maybe we can find a table to run you through the game.
    • Dustin will be on the “Board Game Development: Idea to Prototype” panel Saturday at 7pm Friday at 3:30pm. Stop by and ask questions. We would love to talk to you about games.
      • Not related to Scourge of the High Seas, Dustin will also be on the “D&D and Beyond: Homebrews, 5E, and Indie Tabletop RPGs” panel Sunday at 4pm.
  • April 29 - May 1 Great Plains Game Fest, Lincoln, NE
    • We will have a designer's table for this convention and will be ready to play test and demo the game all weekend.
  • May 20 - 22 Protospiel Indy, Noblesville, IN (Suburb of Indianapolis)
    • We will be getting critical feedback on the game from many playtesters. If you are in the area, this is your chance to really shape the final form of the game.
  • July 29 - 31 KantCon, Overland Park, KS
    • We will be running multiple sessions of Scourge of the High Seas to demo the game and get feedback.

We are also looking at Origin's Game Fair in June and possibly GenCon in August. No specifics yet, but we will update when we know more.

In addition to conventions, we are part of the Kansas City Game Designer's group in KC metro. We meet every 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at Lenexa Public Market at 6:30pm. We will be play testing Scourge of the High Seas occasionally at these events. If you are interested in designing board games, have a game you want to play test, or just enjoy playing new games to help provide feedback, please join us! No cost to show up and have a good time.

If in-person is not yet your thing, we have a digital version of Scourge of the High Seas built on Screentop.gg. It is a free browser based 2D board game platform. Let us know on Facebook or email and we can schedule time to demo online.

Be sure to sign-up for email updates as these conventions get closer and see the game in-person this year.

— Dustin

January 1st, 2022

Year of the Pirate

We have been in talks with a company to publish Scourge of the High Seas for almost a year now. The game was roughed in for a crowdfunding campaign in 2021. Unfortunately the shipping costs exploded and Scourge was quickly pushed back. However, the hope is to see prices coming back down in 2022 and so the goal now is to see Scourge hit a crowdfunding site late summer or early fall. This will be good for both the publisher and backers. With this goal in mind, finalizing rules and getting art assets created are the big milestones for this year. When we settle on a date, we will update you immediately. We are very excited to get this game into your hands.

Convention demos

While the wonderful pandemic is rolling high now, again, the hope is that it will begin to subside over the summer and 2nd half of the year. While we are not infectious disease scientists, these are our hopes. And we plan to be at some conventions around the country as long as infections come back down. We had a good summer for conventions in 2021 and if that happens again this year, we plan to be at conventions this summer. At the very least, we plan to be at Kantcon and Planet Comic Con in Kansas City this year. More details on these conventions and others will be in future emails and on our Facebook page.


We have playtested Scourge of the High Seas for years at local Kansas City Game Designer meetings as well with small groups locally. It is time to get it into more hands for blind playtesting. This includes sending prototypes out to groups that are willing to play through the game a couple of times and provide feedback. If you are in a group that does this and are interested in playing Scourge, please contact us through this form. We will gather submissions and contact you about timing for testing and feedback.

We would like to again thank you for signing up to learn more about Scourge of the High Seas. It is amazing to see people interested in something we have worked so hard to create.

— Dustin

October 1st, 2020

Game Design Contest Win

Occasionally I enter game design contests because they challenge me to work on a deadline, or have a limitation that forces me to think in a different way than I am used to working. Recently the Board Game Bulletin had a contest that required entries to use only a deck of UNO cards to make a new game. I wanted to try and make a worker placement game using just cards. The end result is a game called "Contarlos" which means "Count Them" in Spanish. I worked on this over the course of a couple of days and bounced ideas off my wife who also came up with the name of the game. She also helped greatly in playtesting the game to make sure the rough edges were smoothed out.

The game has a central pool of the special ability cards in the deck. Draw Two, Wild, Skip Reverse and so on. Players can use a card from their hand and place it on the ability cards to use that ability to their advantage. Once the ability card is used in this way they other players cannot use the card. Sort of in the same vein as using a token on a location for worker placement. The goal of the game is to use the cards in your hand to add up the match or beat the high valued cards and keep those cards for the end of the game. After 4 rounds the players count up the high valued cards they have collected and whoever has the most points wins. It is a short 10-25 minute game for 2-4 players.

A few weeks after submitting, I got an email from the Board Game Bulletin letting me know that I won! I was absolutely surprised that my game was picked! I thought the game was fun, but to have other people judge and find games that I have worked on to be fun it is very inspiring. It is a huge confidence booster.

It has been a few months since the issue was released, but I highly recommend you visiting the Board Game Bulletin website and reading through their current and previous issues. They have great photography, in-depth articles and an overall wonderful design and layout. Be sure to check them out and again thank you for picking my game for the UNO contest.

If you want to learn how to play Contarlos, all you need is the print any play instructions and a deck of UNO cards. Feel free to download the PDF and give the game a try. If you do play the game, please let me know what you think of the game.


Contarlos Instructions - PDF

— Dustin

August 17th, 2020

Crew Token Redesign

I recently asked for feedback on the "Board Game Design Lab Community" page on Facebook for the tokens of the game. Many people enjoyed the ships, but the crew tokens were mentioned several times about being very simple.

Crew tokens are assigned to different areas of your ship for faster sailing and attacking other ships or islands. They are also used during combat where you place the crew assigned to combat into a bag with the other side's crew tokens. Whether that be players, the navy, merchant or island crew tokens, the attacking player pulls 3 tokens randomly from the bag to decide the fight. Who ever has the majority of their crew revealed is the winner.

The crux comes from the fact that all of these tokens need to be the exact same, to avoid any chance that the player that pulls the tokens from the bag, will be able to distinguish their tokens from their opponent's tokens. That was the original reason I made the tokens simple.

But with the feedback I received I started revisiting the look of the tokens and I agreed. The tokens were too simple compared to the rest of the game components. So I went back and redesigned them. In the end I came up with two options. The first is a pirate that has no gender identity that I feel represents the players well enough without allowing another player to tell them apart while feeling around in the bag. The second token option I added a beard to the same design. It immediately had that feel of a pirate in my opinion. But it does not represent everyone.

I again went back to the Board Game Design Lab Community to discuss the options. I got an incredible response of over 100 people talking about these tokens. I was amazed by all of the responses and I believe every single one of them were positive and constructive. They are truly an amazing community.

In the end, there were 28 for the beard out of 100. That means the majority either wanted a non-beard or a double-sided crew token that represented a male and female side. Printing different designs on each side will increase the cost of production. I do not know by how much. A quote and prototype are still down the road a bit in this process. So it may be possible to have a token that represents male and female at the end of the day. I will still be exploring that option. However, for now, the crew tokens will be represented by the gender neutral option. I hope it will be the most inclusive. In the end the design should make people happy with the result without generating more questions that pull the players out of the enjoyment of the game. Below are the current renders of the tokens.

The first image shows the crew token as it will move forward. I also tweaked some colors based on colorblindness feedback. That means the other tokens will need some updates. The second image shows the bearded "captain". I have no plans for a captain token for the game at the moment, but that does not mean something might not come to me in the future. One of the original ideas I had for the game was to have each player be a "Bearded" captain (Black Beard, Red Beard, Green Beard, etc.). However, again, inclusion was something that made me back away from that option. Time will tell if the bearded token makes its return.

— Dustin