Any news? Just plugging along . . .

posted in: games, Mint Ttin LunaSyr | 0

Apart from life marching along, here’s a bit of what’s been going on.

Mint Tin LunaSyr is getting near-final tweaking after loads of play testing.

Game play is around 45 minutes to an hour. Like most games, after you’ve played it once, subsequent sessions are faster.

For Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens, the instructions are double-sided on cards in the game. Mint Tin LunaSyr is more involved and would benefit from full-sized instructions (plus it would be really annoying trying to read eight double-sided cards). But how do we do that and keep it in a small tin?

We took a cue from a few Kickstarters and decided on this—make the rules an online PDF.

One particular Kickstarter game, Card Rogue, is in a normal-sized game box that can easily hold a rule book, but to save cost (and shipping too), they only have a PDF. It works and we enjoy that game.

We’ll include reference cards so that once you’ve played the game, those should be all you need

Scoring‘s great with a semi-Euro-styled low point system.  Most games end with scores of 5-6, 6-7, and sometimes a two point spread like 6-8.

There’s an outer “rounds” track that you move a sentinel along for each round of the game for a total of 12 rounds. Some of those cards are being tweaked now to give the sentinel a bit more oomph.

The inner mining cards are all set and work well.

Some tweaking’s also going on with resource management. Should there be a “storage” limit to them? That fits well with the moon theme in that you’d probably be limited in how much material you could store. But, so far, the game seems to self-regulate that. The resources are hardened glass tiles (mosaic tiles actually).

We need to do more testing to try to break it—you know, play in ways you typically wouldn’t—such as hoarding resources without thinking of winning and seeing if there’s a subtle first-player advantage (there always is, even in chess). Those extreme things, tail-end scenarios, find flaws that can tighten up a game.

Art style is determined but not completed. Cards are double-coded with colour and shape, and designed to be readable when held in-hand. And also language-independent.

We’re close to the “Nick Stage” where our awesome UK game guru tears into it with his phenomenal game insight.

Nick’s created all our solo variants and has a particular talent in being able to look into games with some form of magical mysticism!

Once we get his insight (and I wipe away my tears), we’ll tweak and do real prototype printing. We’ll print on the real final cards and assemble a handful of full games. Now they won’t have some aspects, such as the final tin design (mainly the label) and there won’t be the nifty first-player aluminium* space coin, but they’ll be full playable games and very close to what will be the Kickstarter reward.

We send those to a small group of hardcore final testers who are located all around the globe.

While we always think there will be little to change, it’s always an awesome surprise the feedback we get. Ideas that take the game to a higher place (doh, lunar pun not intended!).

So that’s the update, a bit rambling, but moving along.

Not as fast as I’d like but just the right speed to make a game worth owning—and that’s the most important thing to me and Kate.

Stay tuned to twitter and facebook and thank you for all the social media pics of Mint Tin Games and all the encouragement—this game community is so phenomenal and has helped us far more than just games. =)

PS – The pic below is from an interview two weeks back and shows most of the game. The upper-left card is a mining efficiency card that creates bonus points, the outer cards are the game’s “rounds” tracker that the d4 sentinel moves along (RoSE – automated Robotic Sentinel Enforcer, or for you silly peeps of which I am not, ARSE). The 3×3 grid of cards in the centre are the “mining cards” used for set collection. The d12s in the bottom corners are the Operations counters that your score is based on. The resources, small green and grey square tiles, are REEs (rare-earth elements) and 3H (tritium or hydrogen-3), the stuff you’re mining for, and the meeples are your lunar mining crew that you send out as the worker placement element.

click to biggify


* – Why did you spell aluminum with an ‘i’?

One, it’s fun to say it like that (kind of like saying ‘Ye Olde Game Shoppe’). And second, it’s generally spelled that way in the scientific community. However, in the US and Canada in non-science circles, aluminum is the preferred spelling. And in the rest of the world aluminium is preferred. Interestingly, the spelling of aluminum is actually older.

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

May 2018 be filled with joy, friendship, and success! =)

Kate and I wish you much happiness with friends and family.

May 2018 be your year, filled with your triumphs, filled with your dreams coming true!

Kickstarter comment regarding what’s going on

This update was posted as a comment in both our past Kickstarters. This covers similar topics as the last blog post:

Hi all! It’s been three years since we first started in Kickstarter with Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens. And two years since Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse (time flies when you’re unleashing the apocalypse). =p

Kate and I have been working on games that we’d like to Kickstart and the promising ones are:

Mint Tin LunaSyr – a moon mining game of set collection, resource management, and worker placement. This one’s about 45 minutes to play, our longest so far. It has some tweaking to go but has been well playtested. Our final playtesting should happen in early 2018. We’d love to launch this one in Spring/Summer 2018.

Mint Tin Odyssey’s hero dealing with a minor enemy

Mint Tin Odyssey – this one’s a solo adventure quest inspired by The Legend of Zelda (1986). We have a professional artist and she’s completed 95% of the art. While this one is far along in its development, it will be a big one for us to pull together. It has a “deluxe” reward with a 100 page book – typesetting that book is a big task for me (will be printed in the US). We’d love to do this one in the Fall or Winter of 2018. A fun aspect to this game is that it can be packed up mid-game and then continued later.

Mint Tin Mineshaft – this game’s been the longest in the works and needs a bit more oomph for the endgame. It’s a two player with a lot of angst. So much angst that Kate gets too tense while playing. But we both agree that’s what makes it a good game. It’s semi-coop and can end with both players losing or both surviving with one as the winner.

Both Odyssey and Mineshaft use our “Delta d10” dice system which is intended to be fast and easy-to-read. It’s not a traditional RPG mechanic but I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Since we’re talking anniversaries, we’re thinking of making the Print and Plays from Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens available on BoardGameGeek.

For the new games in the works, we’ll be doing free PnPs on the Kickstarter, probably black & white ink-friendly versions, with full-colour as a dollar reward.

Please share your thoughts on any of this (in facebook or twitter) and thank you for making these games possible!

You’ve spread the word and there are over 7,000 mint tin games in 49 countries – all because of you! Thank you! =)

Fall update for subQuark games

posted in: games, Mint Tin Games | 0

An informal, blah, blah, blah about the State of the Game.

We’ve been quiet on the social media front and that’s fine—we all get tons of social stuff—but some peeps have been wondering what’s going on.

We’ve had some challenges, just like most anyone, that shifted our focus for the last year and a half. It’s all turning out good, but you know how life can get in the way at times. =)

So—what about any new games?!?

We have two that are solid, they still have tweaking to undergo, but their play is strong.

Both are heavier than our other games.

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse is fast-to-play and when you look at the dice as event timers, and not luck, then the game is strategic IF you have the discipline to keep from derailing yourself with tactical chaos during the game. Kate routinely beats me because she sticks to her strategy whereas I get off of mine with tactical mayhem (i.e, I’m a spaz!) =D

Mint Tin Pirates is fast and light but does have strategy such as “get as much crew as possible”, “do lots of small attacks”, or “hold out for cannon attacks”.

Mint Tin Aliens may have the most strategy because it’s somewhat statistically patterned off of Ticket to Ride. Pair of Dice Paradise enjoyed that mechanic with an extra nod to it (both Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens won their wings from Chaz – his video below).

Ugh already, so what are the new games!?!

Mint Tin LunaSyr and Mint Tin Odyssey. We’re also working on another, Mint Tin Mineshaft, but the endgame needs more oomph.

Mint Tin Odyssey’s been in development longer and Mint Tin LunaSyr came about as a “break” from working on Odyssey. LunaSyr will probably Kickstart before Odyssey.

eat less, design more? click to zoom

Final play testing by peeps outside of our local group, followed by final art is what’s left for LunaSyr. Heck, I’m already wearing LunaSyr tees! Get yours from Teespring.

Mint Tin LunaSyr also needs to find a good tin. There are too many components for our normal-sized tins—I’m looking into American-made round tins. Round makes sense, thematically, because this game’s about mining on the moon.

You’re the chief of a roughneck mining crew fighting to be the best crew at the LunaSyr Corporation. So far, it’s about a 45 minute game—our longest yet!

We’ve selected most of the final game components, all sourced in the US, of course.

We have small square hardened glass tokens for resources (2 colours), 6 meeples, a pair of d12s, a d4, 2 small round hardened glass markers, 64 linen-finish casino-quality mini cards, and a minted nickel-plated brass first-player token.

The d12s are resource counters and not rolled, and the d4 is a robot sentinel. If you’re familiar with Targi, some of this game play will be familiar.

Mint Tin LunaSyr is a 2-player deterministic set collection game.

Okay, Mint Tin Odyssey.

This is a solo game and may have a 2-player variant, but I’ve wanted to have a solo game for times when you’re hanging out alone. It could be at lunch by yourself, up late and unable to sleep, or anytime where a game might be a nice alternative to having your face buried in a screen.

This game’s inspired by memories of playing The Legend of Zelda in 1986! Wow, how can that be over 30 years ago?!?!

The Legend of Zelda, I believe, was the first video game that did not have a linear progression. You could go fight the final boss without grabbing your wooden sword or anything else! *shakes fists in the air—yells “Ganon”*

Looking back at that game, it was really simple and very easy, but it was so much fun.

That simpleness is something I want to keep so that this game could be played on a sleepless night and not get you too wound up. However, I think you’ll find the combat mechanism interesting and similar to Zelda—fast and simultaneous—and there’s also permadeath in this game (making it a bit roguelike – wiki).

The combat system is homegrown and called the Delta d10 system. This is something I’ve fussed with for two years—a dice system that isn’t RPG (GURPS, d20, ORE, etc.)—technically, it’s a simultaneous single-toss-opposed-roll mechanic. Dang, that’s a mouthful but sounds schmancy. =p

The idea is that it only needs two dice (keeps it small too) and there’s no need to write anything down. You can read 3 different values from one dice toss. You resolve combat in one roll with values for you and your opponent plus a value that can be used in varying ways (like mêlée vs. ranged).

Mint Tin Odyssey’s also a game that can be saved at any point of your game play.

click to zoom

There’s a simple way to take down the game that allows you to set it right back to the point where you stopped. This is ideal for lunch breaks or when you really only have 10 or 15 minutes to play (this game’s over an hour).

There are three types of minted metal coins and even skulls carved from the mineral magnesite.

There may be a slight wrinkle in Odyssey‘s planning, mainly that it’s getting too big for our standard tins. We may use muslin bags for it and, thus, may need to rethink the name—Mint Tin-LESS Odyssey? hmm . . . =p

While this game’s about as far along as LunaSyr, the Kickstarter project is bigger. This game has original art commissioned from Stephanie B. that is wonderful. I love her art style and she had carte blanche for her treatment of it. My original thought was that it should be top-down, just like The Legend of Zelda.

Fortunately, letting Stephanie be her own art director has resulted in a far more immersive and beautiful experience than I imagined. My original top-down idea works when your dealing with the computer tech of the 80’s and cathode ray TVs, but a board game is a tangible thing that you can touch.

Leigh Woodwyn
click to zoom

Rather than looking down on many similar cards, the end result is around 50 pieces of beautiful and unique art.

At first, I was only going to ask her to create 5 pieces. But . . . it was so worth exploding the budget—the end result is stunning.

Not only did Stephanie create wonderful vignettes of the world as you would see it, she also created a hero that’s a thousand times better than anything I could have done.

The hero of the game is fabulous – Leigh Woodwyn. The meaning of her name: Leigh – path/place and Woodwyn – friend of the wood/forest. Leigh is the reluctant hero who steps up to save the forest from a malevolent being (with banshees too!).

While the budget’s more than anything we’ve ever done, Stephanie doesn’t have to wait on Kickstarter funding (project creators: don’t make a professional’s livelihood contingent on your campaign). And she’s gracious enough to help us leverage the cost by providing the final colour art AND also line art that we’ll use in the adult colouring book for the deluxe reward. That book will be an ISBN-listed book (all our games are physically archived in the US Library of Congress as part of their US copyright).

click to zoom

The colouring book will also hold robustly written rules with setup and game play drawings, plus the story of our intrepid hero’s adventure, and should be 100 or more pages (probably 8″x10″ to help with portability).

And that’s the reason this will Kickstart later—laying out the book for the printer is a big job. It’s one I have some familiarity with but it’s all on me, no third-party. I work directly with Ingram who prints over 18 million books per month and if I have any errors, no one will catch them—they are printers, not publishers.

Why do we do this?

We want control over as much of the games as we can have and that’s also why we source from US vendors and suppliers.

It means we assemble them ourselves and, while some experts in the game publishing business think this is a dumb approach, it hasn’t kept us from shipping out over 7,000 games to 49 countries.  =)

Mint Tin World Map –

So that’s the state of the game for us:

  • Mint Tin LunaSyr – spring 2018 *fingers crossed*
  • Mint Tin Odyssey – dependent on above, maybe fall 2018
  • Mint Tin Mindshaft – spring 2019

On another tangent, we also hope to get our ChuChu Chicken & Pedro the Goat chapter books out in 2018. =)

Happy gaming and win often!

Best laid plans . . .

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Dang, we so wanted a Kickstarter in May but life got in the way . . . a little bit.

Some health issues, starting a new role in my day job, and blah, blah, blah, have all given me an excuse to not be 100% on our next game.

But . . . we all have challenges in life and they’re the stuff that makes us all who we are.  =)

From Mint Tin Odyssey to Mint Tin Mineshaft to Mint Tin LUNASYR, you and I have been on a tiny roller coaster.

Mint Tin Odyssey will definitely happen – it’s a big project with tons of professional art and it’s both a game and a 100+ page printed book. The book is as big a project as the game and the entire project will be the biggest we’ve done – and it will happen, just a matter of time.

Mint Tin LUNASYR (loo-nuh-SEER) is almost complete, we have to do loads of documented play testing to tweak the scoring range. Right now it’s super low with scores like 4-5 and 4-6 – very Eurogame in nature. I’d like to get the range a bit higher like 8-9 and 8-10 for most games. The difference is a balance of event costs and a higher score will mean a few more transactions per game and allow for more strategy development during game play.

And we’re trying to get the Mint Tin LUNASYR to play in about 30 minutes.

It’s looking good and most of its art is done (including a retro aluminum space coin). *fingers crossed*

Thanks for all your encouragement and truly being awesome!  =)



2017 – change in plans – maybe?

posted in: games | 0

Life’s up and downs sure can impact your gaming lifestyle and that goes for game publishing as well.

I’d love to launch Mint Tin Odyssey in April but the window for prep is closing quickly.

Mint Tin Mineshaft might be a better candidate for April (possibly May, drat) because there are fewer parts and no “deluxe” component.

Both games are developed, play tested, and pretty solid – some tweaking to the difficulty of Mint Tin Mineshaft is needed and may involve consulting a professional statistician – no lie! o_O

This game is hard AND . . . due to overlapping game mechanics, it can be precisely tuned.

It’s semi-coop to get to the endgame where both can survive, both can perish, or only one makes it out!

For Mint Tin Odyssey, there’s a deluxe reward of a 120+ page colouring, rules, and story book that’s very much its own project.

The issue for Mint Tin Odyssey isn’t the art – the illustrator is phenomenal and 90% of the art is complete – it’s all the other bits that need pulling together, plus typesetting the book, that are looming larger and larger as February slips away.

Tentative parts for Odyssey:

  • 54-64 mini cards
  • 3 12mm meeples (2 colours)
  • 2 Minotaur coins
  • 5 Artemis coins
  • 3 skull tokens (maybe a glass one too)
  • 8 life tokens
  • 3 magic tokens
  • 1 rondel marker
  • 1 boss encounter marker
  • 2 Chessex mini d10 dice
  • a tin (possibly home-pressed lid)
  • 30 minute epic soundtrack
  • colouring book
Mint Tin Mineshaft play test card

Tentative parts for Mineshaft:

  • 64 two inch square cards
  • pair of fancy speckled d10s – Chessex, of course
  • 3 glass markers (2 colours)
  • 6 silver coins
  • 6 brass coins
  • 1 home stamped loot/carry bag
  • 1 first-player coin
  • a tin (possibly home-pressed lid)

Mint Tin Mineshaft may be the one to launch just from writing about it in this post (for me, this is like talking out a problem with someone – in this case, that someone is you!). =)

Mint Tin Odyssey would then launch in the fall – we want to share both of these games with you this year.


So fingers crossed and lots of awesome support from you and we’ll do it!  =)

What’s planned for 2017?

Incredible artwork continues to be created for Mint Tin Odyssey which may launch May 4th. *fingers crossed*

Stephanie has created a bulk of the art for both the card deck and the colouring book. I’m very excited about the “look” and am continually blown away by her talent.

Mint Tin Odyssey

Mint Tin Odyssey is heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda and involves the exploration of 49 kingdom cards.

It’s currently a solo game meant to be played in a relaxing manner in around 30 to 45 minutes. It should be ideal for times when you want to unwind and maybe even a sleepless night. We’re trying to work a method into it that allows you to stop partway, pack it up, and then restart where you left off.

It uses the Delta d10 system which is a dice system allowing up to 3 values to be read from one dice toss. The idea is not to hamper anyone with the need to update stats. It’s not like RPG dice systems – it’s a standalone system for this game and Mint Tin Mineshaft.

Mint Tin Mineshaft has been undergoing play testing and tweaking for six months and is nearing completion.

This one’s a semi-cooperative 2-player game intended for about 30 minutes of game play. It also uses the Delta d10 system and is easy-to-play (but hard to win) and has decent replayability.

Mint Tin Mineshaft will, hopefully, Kickstart in the fall. =)

Natalie, Michelle, and I have created “version two of Mint Tin Pirates” which introduces a krakken and some real coins. It builds on the current rules and adds 2 crew to each player for a bit longer game play as well as more time for strategy to evolve.

It’s meant to be a new game and not simply a new edition of Mint Tin Pirates – both versions have their audiences and niches to fill. I’d like explore a 3- and/or 4-player option to make it truly stand apart from the original, and still popular, Mint Tin Pirates.

Speaking of popularity . . .

We continue to enjoy steady internet sales of all three games:

with our Triple Play Deluxe offering being the most popular.

We’ve switched from a PayPal shopping cart to Shopify. The flow’s better for customers plus it allows us to run discount codes from time-to-time (which are listed on the online store page).

That’s it for now – Happy Gaming and Win Often!

a colouring page from the Mint Tin Odyssey deluxe Kickstarter reward

subQuark Shopify storefront

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PayPal updated their checkout experience and removed the “shipping calculator”.

That’s unfortunate because it allowed people to see exactly what shipping was going to be.

To help address the anxiety that can come from a “different” checkout experience, we decided to give Shopify a try.

It’s slick and behaves in a manner that most people will find familiar and time will tell how good it actually is.

Happy gaming and win often!


Google World Map of Mint Tin Games

This was easy and lots of fun to make with Google Maps.

This shows where Mint Tin Games have been sent to from both Kickstarter campaigns and online sales.

The map is made up of layers:

  • Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens Kickstarter (666 cities)
  • Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Kickstarter (1789 cities)
  • Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Kickstarter (1152 cities)
  • Online Sales (469 cities)

Each layer can have a maximum of 2,000 data points so Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse takes two layers. You can toggle layers on and off.

There’s only one flag per city even though some cities have many games and only the last layer’s colour shows if multiples exist for that city (toggling the layers will change flag colours if games were shipped there from various projects).

All-in-all, here are the final numbers, plus or minus a few, for our tiny games:

  • 6,900 Mint Tin Games out there in
  • 2,217 cities in
  • 49 countries.

Kind of a fun thing for literally a mom and pop operation! Go Maker Movement! =)

Thank you for making all of this happen and for sharing these games with friends.

Happy Gaming and Win Often!

updated – August 16, 2016

Introspective Rambling to a Backer’s Question

I think most would agree I’m pretty transparent and open. I’ve learned so much from others sharing their ideas with me and consider them as collaborators in many endeavors.

Kickstarter backers have pushed this way beyond anything I could have imagined and it’s wonderful. =)

Backers are far more than just some dollar amount – they’re the ones that decide if something is worthwhile. Without that support, a Kickstarter’s project is probably crap. o_O

This morning I read a nice message from the Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Kickstarter and it made me focus on what’s next.

What follows is exchange between two Davids with some additions in my response:

Greetings David,

If I’ve done the math right MTMA exceeded MTP/MTA by about 400% in both number of backers and funds raised. Given the loyal following you are building it is not outside the realm of possibility that your next project would maintain that trend. That’s 12,820 backers (I would consider that the bare minimum number of games), and $234k-ish (assuming similar reward costs).

Given those numbers a couple of questions have come to mind.

  1. have you given any thought as to how you will mitigate those numbers, i.e. by having a bunch of staggered reward levels?
  2. will the delivery schedule have time built in to ensure you don’t end up divorced?

:o ;)


Looking forward to the next installment.


Hi David! That would be a great problem to have! So let’s take a look at it.

The next game would have to be as well received, or better, to surpass this one in my opinion.

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse hits several notes just right. It’s very simple and doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. The secret of why it’s fun to play is the nature of a pair of d6s.

I wish I could claim I was clever but a pair of dice is a lot more than game components used as a randomizing mechanic. That’s why 1,985 books (Amazon) are written about Craps. (wiki)

I take some credit for wrapping the theme around it but can’t take credit for being original in that theme! I tried to stay true to monster, sci-fi, and apocalypse memes.

The biggest thing I can claim is getting the logistics of the game components to a point that they fit in a really small tin! =)

I think those are some of the factors that made this one successful.

To repeat that success is quite intimidating to me – the bar has been set high – that bar was set by your support for this Kickstarter.

I’d love the next game to be 4 times bigger but I don’t think it will be.

We would need reviewers like Rahdo and Tom Vasel to make that happen (and they would need to be stellar reviews). Since we are independent publishers and don’t sell through game stores, that may be a factor as far as their reviews go.

We’d love to sell through game stores and do sell in our FLGS – DiversionsPG – but since we source in the US, our game costs are higher than offshore manufactures and that doesn’t allow for enough profit margin for normal distribution channels.

The reviewers who have been gracious to donate their time, skill, and talent to our games tend to be independents like us – I am humbled by their work and value their time (so much so it moves me to tears to think about how wonderful they are – I’m hugely sentimental). =)

But . . . if the next Kickstarter did go bananas, we’d probably do something similar to the Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Kickstarter – add a later reward delivery just like you mentioned (not more than three dates though).

AND . . . we’d hire some local folks to help make the rewards.

BUT . . . the bigger challenge isn’t the labor.

It’s the supply chain.

We bought out all inventory from Chessex twice during this campaign for the colors we used. That was stressful.

We could reduce that by not specifying colors in the final games, although that would open this up to backers wanting specific colors and that wouldn’t work for efficient shipping (because that makes the inventory issue a problem again).

Another factor that would likely keep the next Kickstarter from being bigger is the nature of its game.

Right now I’m all hyped up about Mint Tin Quest which is a solo game. That’s a smaller niche than a 2 player game.

It would also be in a normal-sized tin. While that’s still novel, we’ve done that with Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens.

Having Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse fit into a mini-sized tin added novelty and was a part of its success, albeit game play is the single most important factor, the diminutive size did raise its visibility and create online buzz.

Saying all of that, Mint Tin Quest could fizzle out.

At such an early stage in design, it’s easy to be excited about it but it has to end up being fun to play.

Mint Tin Villagers is much farther along than Mint Tin Quest. It has some final artwork and all the components are figured out. The label’s even done and there’s already a Kickstarter project page for it.

It was supposed to launch with Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse as a 2 game Kickstarter (like our first), but the last minute or two of game play is flat. I haven’t given up on it but there came a point where it was preventing Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse from going forward.

Dang David, this sparked a lot of introspection and I think I’m going to turn this into a blog post!

Thank you for asking and getting me thinking about it more concretely.

Thank you for the tremendous support and for being a true collaborator – you made this Kickstarter a reality and have shaped the next one more than you know!

Happy holidays David and happy gaming!



from Update#2:

the beautiful Bell Curve of 2d6


the actual probability formula for 2d6 – that’s some serious math!