Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse manhole cover question

posted in: mini apocalypse, Mint Tin Games | 0

An excellent question was posed on BoardGameGeek regarding the manhole expansion and it’s one I’ve had on Twitter as well.

the rules go out of the way to state you cannot save a 7. So if you need a 7 to throw the manhole cover to open the FoS, you need to roll a 7 at the exact same instant your opponent rolls a 7 to close the FoS?

this seems to either be useless or could lead to a lot of bickering over how long you wait to roll again.

It would make more sense that whoever controls the cover should be able to throw it to open the FoS at anytime to prolong the game, but all other action need a 7.

I like that “bickering” was mentioned. That’s to be expected with the apocalypse . . . but here’s an easy way to clarify almost anything about Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse.

First (me and my tangents), I would recommend that most people play Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse a few times without using the Manhole Expansion.

Kate also had a hard time understanding the manhole cover but if I can explain it well enough, it should be an ah ha moment for anyone having similar issues.

The game is meant to embrace all the memes and cliches of apocalypses and ALSO reflect what could happen in real life under the conditions set in Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse.

Imagine you are in a small downtown or even a strip mall setting. There’s a school with an old fallout shelter or maybe a bank with a vault nearby.

There’s a crashed Red Cross truck just a few hundred feet away that boxes of food rations spilled out (that’s what the boxes are in my head). Or there could be a convenience store nearby. It could be a corner shop or a grocery store – some place with bottled water and twinkies (okay, you can be healthier and grab energy bars).

Then something happens, it could be an EMP, some military test, inter-dimensional warp, or who knows what – but a monster can be seen over the tree tops – holy crap!

You don’t get knocked out but your friends or family do.

With rolled 7s representing things going your way, here’s how to frame questions you may have about the rules:

What would you do in real life?

If you get knocked down and no one else from your side is up, you’d have to get up before you could help someone else (like using smelling salts or a slap in the face). If only one person is up, could they get into the fallout shelter?

Yes they could, but who would help others get up?

That’s why the rules say “You need 1 standing meep to help your meeps or knock down others.

That makes your standing meep the hero of your group and that means you! You are the standing meep helping your confused and panicked friends – you are the one with the cool head that can get save them –

be the hero you were born to be! =)

Okay, let’s get the manhole cover into the mix and back to that BGG question. So you get shut out of the FoS – bah, that sucks, but it’s not over yet.

It’s only over when the monster’s die is on 1 and someone rolls snake eyes and no one’s willing to sacrifice themselves.

The basic game rules are really not changed with the Manhole Expansion – only the part about the FoS being closed ending the game.

That ends the basic game because it’s assumed that the monster will eventually get to 1, snake eyes will be rolled, and everyone outside will be eaten.

Adding the Manhole Expansion to your game means that you can now play until that very end.

But you know what they say about assuming things . . .

So, what would you do as a hero once the FoS was closed and you had a way to open it and save your friends?

You’d do your best to open it of course! *cue heroic music*

The person who closed the FoS has a lot of incentive to roll as fast as they can and get the monster to a 1 and roll snake eyes. They want to ensure their win.

You, as the person shut out, need to claim the manhole cover (if you don’t have it yet) and then throw it with your adrenaline supercharged hero self to reopen the FoS (rolling 7s are still needed – you’ve got to able to get the manhole cover and then be able to throw it accurately).

Even if the monster gets to 1 and your opponent rolls snake eyes, normal rules still apply.

You can sacrifice one of your meeps to stop that snake eyes.

Both of you keep rolling. You want to toss them out and save your team. If you sacrificed one meep, you can still win.

And now your opponent also has reason to sacrifice one of their own. They can still win with 4 in.

In fact, you could keep sacrificing and kicking them out to keep them under 4 meeps in FoS and eventually cause both of you to lose.

Why would you do that?

It’s the apocalypse and people get bitter and do weird things under stress!

2015-10-20 10.46
blue closed FoS, yellow used manhole cover to reopen, one of each sacrificed, and if fate smiles on yellow, they could possibly win! or maybe both will lose!

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse – Call for Reviewers

posted in: games, mini apocalypse | 0

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse was born the week before the Mint Tin Games – Pirates & Aliens Kickstarter started in September of last year. The inimitable Kate tossed an empty Altoids Smalls tin onto the table and challenged me to create a game with it.

Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens are pretty small in their Altoids-sized tin, but the mini tin for Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse is less than half the volume – it makes microgames look monstrous!

A game Kickstarter is nothing without reviews.

There’s no doubt that most of the backers for Mint Tin Games – Pirates & Aliens backed the project because of reviews.

Here’s what we’re looking for in a reviewer:

  1. Online presence. A half dozen reviews online as blog posts, BoardGameGeek reviews, audio podcasts, and/or a videos.
  2. Accuracy and thoroughness. Reviews that are accurate to the gameplay and style of gamer who would enjoy the game. Matching potential backers’ expectations is more important than being funded. While this game is highly affordable, I hate seeing someone spend their hard-earned cash on a game that won’t get played..
  3. Availability. It takes a lot of your time to play, ponder, and think about a game. As a reviewer, you’re able to imagine how the game will feel a year down the road after many plays with time to explore strategies. This is a tiny and light game, but there are still some subtle strategies that can be applied (and many lightning fast decisions). Grasping that in just a few plays makes for a well trusted reviewer. Then it takes time to photograph, record, write, edit, and publish a review. Only you know your schedule and timing is tight. The Kickstarter starts August 11th and runs for only 20 days. But reviewer copies may not get in your hands until 2 weeks before the KS.
  4. Location. We had some non-US reviewers on the last one and that worked out fine. The cost and time for shipping makes it challenging but if this game fits your style and you have reviewed other small light games, then you’re be a good fit.

Our first games went to many reviewers including a few that don’t like short casual filler games. I’m not sure why they asked to review them so I thought I’d spell out what I think this game is to help see if it matches your style.

  1. Filler, light, and casual. It’s a 5 to 10 minute game. It can be played with different strategic approaches but it’s still only 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Simultaneous and competitive. No turn order, just simultaneous live play as fast as you can roll dice. It’s about surviving with limited resources available. You have to get your team into the fallout shelter faster than your opponent.
  3. Tiny components. 12 millimeter dice, mini meeples, and 8 millimeter cubes. It’s small to handle and requires fast rolling. This can be modified and you can play one roll at a time (great for kids and maybe even helps with math skills).
  4. Self-published and direct distribution. I’m all about making games at home and showing that if I can do it, anyone can (and should). This means some creative manufacturing and not big corporate polish. I emboss these lids manually, I affix the game label by hand, and I “hope” to hand ink stamp some of the game components (read: they are not laser centered). I source 100% in the US and don’t make these for retail distribution to keep player cost down. BUT . . . they’ll be available online after the Kickstarter, on Amazon, and in our local friendly Portsmouth game store.
  5. Family-friendly. Like Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens, the text is gentle without words like kill or dead. I’m a big kid at heart and the worst in this is mentioning that the monster will eat you which I may change to the monster will get you. Overall, I hope this is pretty innocent for the apocalypse.

In return for your review, I’ll ship two deluxe games to whoever you like. Maybe you do giveaways, run contests, or want to donate to a charity (so far we’ve donated over 100 pairs on the first Mint Tin Games). Both can be shipped to one person or one to two different people – whatever works best for you (even to you for stocking stuffers).

Plus you’ll get the final and complete Kickstarter Deluxe edition. The reviewer copies have the complete base game and mini game mat, but not the custom minted manhole cover and not the mini game journal or mini game poster. Pennies and prototype images will be included to help visualize the deluxe goodies.

We have some reviewers lined up but would love more. Of course we want great reviews to include in and help the Kickstarter.

I hope this helps match this game with the type of games you personally like.

Those are the best reviews, when the player identifies with you and trusts your recommendations.


Kickstarter Rewards (may change and multiples are also available):

MTMA – 1 copy of Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse with Manhole Expansion, 1 Mini Apocalypse Mini Game Poster, and Mini Apocalypse Soundtrack download.

Total pledge with shipping: US $12, Canada $17, World $22

MTMA DELUXE – 1 copy of Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse with Manhole Expansion PLUS an extra manhole cover coin for your own variants, 1 Mini Apocalypse Mini Game Poster plus 1 Mini Apocalypse Mini Game Mat with 1 Mini Apocalypse Journal, and Mini Apocalypse Soundtrack download.

Total pledge with shipping: US $19, Canada $24, World $30


What this kind of plays like:

Escape – The Curse of the Temple except it’s competitive and has a monster that will eat you. Also, instead of dealing with jewels, your team functions a little like a worker placement game.

You can “block” the Fallout Shelter (FoS) by getting your 5 in first (Kate loves doing this). It’s also a little “resource management” if you decide to grab a cube with your RECON PAIR because once you “create” this pair, they act as one meep, so 2 can move back in on one move (I like doing this and activating the monster asap).

At first glance, this game may seem all luck-based but keeping it as open as possible with few rules allows it to maximize the mechanics of a simple pair d6 dice. A Google search of “strategy for craps” yields 9.5 million results and millions of dollars have changed hands with Craps. Amazon has over 1,400 books on Craps!

But this isn’t Craps, it’s the apocalypse and it fits in your jeans’ watch pocket!

Chaotic real-time rolling keeps this fast and it’s not so easy to make decisions in this highly disruptive environment. While 7s are the highest probability in rolling a pair of d6s, it’s what you do that can mean the difference between a win, a loss, or devastation by the monster (two endgames – one player wins or no one wins).

  • do you get your entire team to their feet first?
  • get one to their feet and then into the shelter?
  • keep knocking your opponent down?
  • keep tossing them out of the shelter?
  • get your entire team in to block your opponent?
  • get a recon team in and out right away to get the monster to notice you, putting pressure on your opponent?
  • claim the manhole cover on the first 7 to really amp up the monster?
  • go for a quick win or save your entire team?
  • be a hero if you’re losing?
  • fling the manhole cover to reopen the shelter and maybe lose to the monster?
  • sacrifice yourself to keep the game going and possibly win?
  • decisions, decisions, decisions





I have a list of some reviewers who have expressed an interest for Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse and I will reach out to you by Saturday (I hope!).  =)

I’m hoping for two dozen interested and available reviewers on this short notice.

If you think this game fits you and your readers, contact me via Twitter with your review site URL.

Thank you! =)


part of the game play's decision tree
part of the game’s decision tree


Reviewer Update

It’s easy for me to miss someone, here’s a list of who I have addresses for as of July 19th:

  • Kurt A.
  • Matt B.
  • Tiffany B.
  • Mike B.
  • Jacob C.
  • Maurice F.
  • Michael F.
  • Erin H.
  • The Hatc…
  • T.R. K.
  • Roger L.
  • Timothy M.
  • Amy P.
  • Reuben Q.
  • Christoper R.
  • Francois S.
  • Tess VB.
  • Page W.
  • Curt W.
  • Diversions Crew

If I’m supposed to have you here, bonk me on the head and send me a Tweet.


Deadlock endgame in Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse

posted in: dice, games, mini apocalypse | 0

A Mexican Standoff is a cinema cliche.

I prefer the term deadlock with a definition of

a situation in which two competing actions are each waiting for the other to finish

It’s an exciting point in a movie and hopefully exciting in Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse. It can be the actual endgame or the penultimate endgame (lol, I love that word!). =D

I didn’t map this out and I’m not that clever; I let the numbers do the work and get out of the way (by being careful that rules don’t constrict these interactions).

It’s like the ancient pyramids.

In 1859, John Taylor wrote that ancient Egyptians understood the mathematical concept of Pi and the proportions of the great pyramid represented the radius and circumference of Earth. The latter being a phenomenal accomplishment since ancient people were supposedly clueless about the size of Earth.

Perhaps ancient Egyptians understood Pi very well, but Taylor’s “discovery” was due to something simpler.

Measuring tools used to build the great pyramids included wheeled instruments. They would mark out X revolutions for various measurements. The nature of using full revolutions automatically means everything is related to a circle and thus to Pi.

I apologise to big math brains out there (looks at Tessa) but the point I’m trying to make is that what I call “natural systems” have automatic interactions that you don’t have to plan out.

That’s the case with this deadlock in Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse.

In this pic, the fallout shelter has 6 inside so only one more can go in. Both players have sacrificed a meeple onto the monster’s die to keep the game going (this cancels snake eyes which would have the monster win), and both have 1 standing outside. Another snakes eyes has been rolled and blue calls it out – Snake Eyes!

  • If neither sacrifices another meeple, the monster wins and each player gets 0 points.
  • If yellow sacrifices a meeple and blue rolls a 7 to get its last meeple in, and rolls another 7 to close the lid (you need 4 in to close the lid), blue wins with 3 points and yellow gets 1 point for being selfless.
  • If yellow sacrifices a meeple and either player rolls snake eyes (both keep rolling till the end) before blue closes the lid, then the monster wins and we each get 0.

The deadlock boils down to taking an action for possibly 1 point or taking no action for 0 points (and the ethical issue of humankind’s survival!).

Why would you ever care about earning 1 point if it means your opponent earns 3? If you’re keeping score in a journal for a badge (bragging rights) or playing in a tournament.

You can view the game as being luck-based (and it is) but you can also view your 7s as “luck-based” resources. You’ll roll 7s 16% of the time and you both have the same odds – the luck is balanced – it comes down to planning.

What you do with those 7s.

Kate uses an overarching strategy that helps dictate what she does with her 7s. I tend to be “spontaneous” and all over the place (read: spaz). She wins more often but my games always feel different to me (lots of “dang, should have done this, not that” moments).

Note: in this pic, I decided to “use” the manhole cover to knock down the monster rather than risk Kate claiming it as a second chance to open the shelter (but that “consumed” two of my 7s).


Fostering an “open” game culture

posted in: games, mini apocalypse | 0

Hmm, that title is funky and what I’m trying to accomplish is having Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse be a bit of an “open” game system.

By open I mean that its play can be modified by gamers and that its components can be used in different ways.

One of the ultimate open game systems in the world is a deck of cards. There are thousands of games possible with a deck or a subset of a deck.

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse will never be that versatile but it would be nice if gamers felt they could make their own variants with its game components:

  • 5 blue meeples
  • 5 yellow meeples
  • 1 green monster meeple
  • 2 blue d6s
  • 2 yellow d6s
  • 1 green d6
  • 1 fallout shelter

Expansion components:

  • 1 game mat
  • 1 manhole cover (maybe 2 depending on your feedback)

This “open” perspective started with this week’s shift of the “deluxe” Kickstarter reward game mat going from a themed dice rolling mat to being a true game component.

The game mat was simply a top view of Meepleton, the game’s setting. But with a slight modification, the mat can turn into “zones”. At first I thought about numbering these, but that constrains what you can do or at least tends to create a linear path (1 to 2 to 3, etc).

If these are zones are named buildings and access points to the sewer, does that make the game more open?

For example, in the original incarnation a simple T intersection divided the mat into my side and your side. We place our meeples down and roll the dice like mad.

With a zoned mat, would people do things like:

  • one of my players is in the Bob’s Burritos and two are in Mary’s Smoke shop
  • one of yours is in Cat’s cafe and two are in the Cinema Magic
  • rescue your team and get them to the shelter, grab the manhole cover and use the sewer to bypass the school and get directly into the fallout shelter

It’s not a huge departure from normal play but it would be your own variation. The more conditions you place – like getting more meeples out of zones, placing the supplies in a zone (rather than just in the street from a crashed truck), getting the manhole (which takes time but possibly provides an advantage) – the more likely it is that the monster will win.

You could also do things like place the monster in the sewer and require it to bust through the manhole cover . . .

I know it’s hard to envision (lol, it is for me) but this is kind of what I mean by open.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, it would be great to have a community driven expansion to the base game.  =)

Twitter | Facebook

Thanks and have an awesome weekend!

Ready, Set, Hold on . . .

posted in: games, mini apocalypse | 0

I’m was all set for the Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Kickstarter and the game itself has been ready for months.

I got obsessed with offering a “deluxe” reward of a mini game mat and a boxtopping-style score journal and those were ready for July 14th and for reviewers (albeit they’d only get it 2 weeks before the Kickstarter) but now I’m pushing that into August.

So why the delay?

I blame serendipity and passionate game video blogger ExcalibursZone. =p

I’ve not been 100% happy with the mini game mat design and was tweeting about it yesterday to which Excalibur tweeted back

If you did multiple mats as stretch goals, each with different objectives/missions/rules/etc. based on the environment.

Creating full-on missions and rules for this now would mean pushing the KS back a few months because new missions and rules would need lots of playtesting. It’s a phenomenal idea and one I’d like to pursue (and maybe the game community will come up with their own too).

However, a tiny change to the game mat graphics could move the game mat from being a “deluxe” thematic element to being a true expansion. As an expansion, the core game doesn’t need to be modified (lots of playtesting has led to the base game being simple yet fun while allowing for different strategies).

Plus, Nick Shaw has really fun solo, 3 player, and 4 player variants already created (to which I’m doing soundtracks to support Nick’s timed variants).

Making a small change to the mat extends the game now, and in the future, creating more playability. Win-win!

But . . . the Imitable Kate chimed in at dinner last night and said “what about adding a coin?”

She knows I’m obsessed with these US-minted brass tokens. =)

Within a few minutes, we came up with the coin being a manhole cover and part of the expansion.

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse Manhole Expansion!*

The $19 US reward doesn’t go up in price but it now adds the coin as a modest stretch goal.

More importantly, the “deluxe” level becomes a true expansion and adds real game value.

This means adding (and editing) the expansion rules to the score journal and designing the coin, thus pushing the KS back. A benefit is that it also gives reviewers more time.

The last 18 hours have seen an awesome “value add” worthy of a new Kickstarter date of August 11th.  =)

* – LOL, I’m such a little kid that I leave “cover” out of the name to be sophomoric! derr! =D

While the mat doesn’t fit in the tin, the coin actually does! \o/ for serendipity! =)

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse vs. Mint Tin Pirates

posted in: games, mini apocalypse | 0

Part of our Kickstarter project consideration is assembling the game itself. Especially since were all “maker movement”, “sourced local”, “100% US vendors”, and all that feel good blah, blah, blah. =)

We don’t figure any hourly labor rate into this, however game assembly needs to be realistic.

For Mint Tin Pirates, there’s a video online showing most steps:

  1. Inspect each tin inside and out, and test hinges.
  2. Spray each lid, peel label, place jig, apply label, squeegee label, wipe label, and let dry overnight.
  3. Inspect each meeple (7) and bag (all must lay flat).
  4. Inspect each die (2), inspect cubes (3), and bag (must be in one row).
  5. Inspect card deck shrink wrap and place deck in tin.
  6. Fold meeple baggie with 3 on one side and 4 on the other, place in tin.
  7. Roll up cube/dice baggie, place in tin, close and place tin into 4 mil baggie.

Mint Tin Pirates – total active game components: 13

Pretty involved but not so bad and it works out to 20 games per hour for one person.

For the upcoming Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse we have a huge space challenge. We wanted the game to fit in a mini tin which is less than half the volume of a normal tin. o_O

Here’s are the assembly steps:

  1. Inspect each tin inside and out, and test hinges.
  2. Position tin on arbor press, emboss lid, and remove.
  3. Peel and apply game sticker to tin bottom.
  4. Inspect each meeple (11) and sort into bags.
  5. Stretch Goal: stamp each monster meeple (one side).
  6. Inspect each die (5), inspect cubes (2), and sort into bags.
  7. Stretch Goal: stamp each cube (one side).
  8. Print, score, cut, fold, and place instructions in tin, close and place tin into 4 mil baggie.
  9. Bag the mini game poster poker card.
  10. Place all bags into one larger bag.

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse – total active game components: 19

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse has more components to inspect and the components have to be precisely arranged to fit in the tin. Meeples have to stand or or be stacked two deep on top of each other – this adds significant time to a longer process than assembling Mint Tin Pirates.

I’d like to use that time, hopefully, for the “maker movement” stretch goals.

Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens each Kickstarted for $14 with US shipping and Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse will Kickstart for $10 with US shipping.

Add the Kickstarter a “deluxe” version and Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse becomes a bigger game to manage.

After much lamenting, we made the decision not to assemble the final game for two reasons:

  1. Time. We want to get at least 1,000 out early like our first Kickstarter.
  2. The second came from consultation with Nick Shaw – the Mint Tin Games’ master variant creator. He brought up a good point – in Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse the “game box” is also an active game component – it’s the End of the World Shelter (EWS).

With Nick’s perspective in mind I thought about one of the things I like to do with a new game – punch out cardboard and organize.

While I am rationalizing the assembly time, I do like the thought of people setting this up in their own way and making it their own – there are countless possibilities how you can arrange the bits in the box. =)


DIY games and more

posted in: games | 0

I’ve written before about publishing your own game and believe it’s something that many people can do. Years of giant established “gatekeepers” who decide what you will like are quickly falling by the wayside. They will try to keep hold of their places (and profits) and make it seem that anything less than “real” published games are somehow inferior.

Thank goodness YouTube changed that for many incredible musicians. And Kickstarter has done this for musicians, authors, and game designers.

There will always be a place for these gatekeepers but, thankfully, they aren’t the only conduit between creators and individuals.

Today, if you want to share your music, your books, your games, and whatever else, you have the ability to do so. And if your stuff resonates with others, you’ll find success. You could be the next Catan or you could be very happy being out there to a few hundred people. Either way, I think creators and individuals win.

All of this to say: if I can do it, so can you.

I’m not anything big, by any measure, but it’s been very satisfying to get our games out there and for those of you with that game, book, song, or whatever sitting on the back burner, take another step – it doesn’t have to be world domination and it can be as big or small as you like.  =)

Maker Movement continues for Mint Tin Games with a heavy-duty aluminum DIY game display for our only brick-and-mortar game retailer Diversions in Portsmouth, NH


an interesting box, some sandpaper, high-gloss paint, laminated graphics, and mounting tape make a kitchy display box for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens for our FLGS of Diversions in downtown Portsmouth


Diversions is a great FLGS and truly part of the local community. They host a zillion events including our game design meetups which is where Mint Tin Pirates truly got launched!

Thanks Diversions! =)

Mint Tin Games – Roller Derby Ref Approved

I am a volunteer ref for local roller derby leagues.

This means that when I show up to officiate I don’t find myself in a big locker room where I can hang my stripes up and stretch out. In fact, sometimes we are lucky to fit us all in where they have us.

Being an official at these games can lead to downtime for us between games and at half-time. It can be 10 minutes to over an hour depending on the events.

Well this leads into me saying how much I love mint tin games.

I have a gear box that I carry everything in. Shirt, skates, gear, extra wheels, tools, basically anything and everything I need in an emergency. So that doesn’t leave a lot of room for me to have some big box board game. The fact that these games literally fit in a mint tin means that I can store them without having to carefully reorganize everything to make it all fit.

Now to touch on another wonderful part and that is the time aspect of these games. There is a very little learning curve which is a plus because I don’t want to spend the whole half explaining this great game just to have to pack it all up.

Also with the rules modified to be able to stop at any time and be able to quickly do some quick addition and have a winner is beautiful.

So for example, this past weekend we were stuffed in a small hallway. Just enough rooms for a couple of chairs and standing/sitting room only. So with the 20 minute half, I was able to set up Pirates, explain the rules, go through a demo turn or two, and have 10 minutes of play which was enough to have the other ref I played win.

Rinse and repeat during intermission between the first and second game. Get the call that we have to report back to the track and it’s just pack it up, throw it back in my gear box, and no worries.

Let me say that this game is a blessing to me and refs in the locker rooms.

Thanks subQuark for the great games!

“Scooby” Drew Ziegler


Game Design Inspiration

posted in: games | 0

This week a tweet asked “What is a game that inspired you as a designer?”

I watched MythBusters’ Zombie Special with Michael Rooker with a segment titled Dead Heat exploring how likely you could “escape the horde” in varying densities of zombies.

I got a sense of angst no zombie movie ever evoked and wondered how I could convey that feeling.

Non-player characters can be programmed in OpenSim and Ener Hax built an excellent representation of Kowloon Walled City, complete with labyrinths and mazes, that would make a great zombie role-playing sim. =)

I sketched out the elements that created my angst and realised it was beyond my tech skills to do this online. Plus OpenSim severely limits who could explore it and costs $100 a month to host. =(

Around that time, I received Zombie Dice and loved its simplicity. I bought a copy for my daughter and made brains from Sculpey clay to use as counters.

That got me thinking about making a board game instead of something online. =)

ZOMBALAMBA was born, laboured over, prototyped, and play-tested.

A nifty “AI” for zombie movement, very little in-game text, hex tiles for the board, and multiple play modes gave it some variety. I was pretty impressed with myself. *rolls eyes* =p

The prototype even fits into a mini prepper camo bug-out bag (ripped off, err, inspired by Bananagrams).

I wanted it produced domestically but my prototype cost is $26 per game!

A Kickstarter and offshore production with someone like Panda is an option but I have issues with my game made in a country with no free elections, no freedom of speech, and possibly some deplorable work conditions. There’s a reason it costs so much less to make products offshore – cheap labour and little regulation.

I’m not terribly bothered that 99% of games are made like this – I just couldn’t choose this for mine.

So I started looking at alternatives to shave costs. There aren’t many US or Canadian companies that can do this, so I decided I could do it! o_O

And why not?

I’m not scared of doing menial labour and am no primo uomo (well, I may be snobby but I don’t mind saying I had to look up that phrase). =p

Rather than $4 for a custom bag, those wide-mouthed gripper jars are 69 cents . . .

Digging deeper into box alternatives, I ran across mint tins and while ZOMBALAMBA won’t fit in an Altoids’ sized one – it was too late – I had the game design bug.

It’s like a zombie bite – I had no choice but to create a game. Must make games!

I had no idea what but serendipity saved the day.

I went to lunch with Steve, a long time tabletop gamer, and I had two meeple and a pair of dice in my pocket (I mean, who doesn’t?). While waiting for burritos I tossed them onto the table to pass the time.

That day, we challenged each other to come up with a highly portable quick playing pirate-themed game.

A few weeks later we both had prototypes and attended our first game design meetup.

I was ready for full-on blind playtesting with 3 copies of my game. I had no idea what to expect and wanted to be prepared (I may be a tad OCD and manic).  =D

The meetup group graciously played my game and jotted down notes on the instructions. I took all their feedback to heart and Mint Tin Pirates came into existence! One suggestion was to Kickstart a pair of games so I took that to heart too! =)

Maybe it was naive to think I could design and publish a pair of games but I watched a lot of Rhado, devoured anything Jamey Stonemaier wrote, studied other kickstarters, and did it one small step at a time.

I think anyone can do the same – it doesn’t have to be the next Catan – just share what you enjoy and others will like it too.

The blog is back

A few weeks back something happened to our old iliveisl blog with HostGator. A comment-related PHP script caused our server CPU usage to go through the roof. I’m not savvy enough to know how to tell what it was let alone fix it.

HostGator “restricted” the hosting account until it was fixed – that meant none of the 20 sites we maintain were online, including

This happened Friday night right after the Board Game Blender – Tiny Games video came out with a mention by Tiffany B. of Mint Tin Aliens and Mint Tin Pirates (YouTube link starting at 22:47).

I couldn’t afford to spend days figuring this out so I grabbed hosting at GoDaddy to get back online quickly. The Board Game Blender video drove many sales of the Mint Tin Games (thank you Tiffany!). =)

HostGator’s been great for years and they were very responsive via Twitter but, with little server expertise, I felt stuck. It was easier, for me, to rebuild on a new host and get subQuark fully functioning by morning.

All that to say the blog is back and while older posts have missing photos, I can start blabbing again! *ooh, lucky world!*  =p

Oh, since the commenting thing trashed it all, I disabled commenting here. Feel free to chat on Twitter or Facebook as I’ll connect these posts to both. =)

Quick games and Kickstarter update:

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse is pretty solid and the incredible Nick Shaw has created two solo variants, a three player variant (only needs one game), and a four player variant (uses two games in a team format).

His variants are absolutely fantastic! They extend the game, add play value, variation, and a lot of fun. Thanks Nick! =)

We’re still looking to Kickstart Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse for $9 (shipping is US $0, Canada $5, World $10). That level will include a mini poker card poster with Ing’s fantastical interpretation of the game.

There will be a Deluxe reward with a themed mini playmat, a scoring journal with a “badging” element, and maybe even a full colour instruction book to highlight Nick’s instructions (yes, they are THAT good!).

Also my daughter-in-law Michelle, who is a music professor at Boston University, will create a soundtrack for the game! Fun! =D

Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse is nearly done and I’m still futzing with my kooky dream of hand embossing the lids (3D plastic print below).

However, Mint Tin Villagers is being stubborn. The peasants are truly revolting. =(

The first part of that game, cooperative worker placement, plays fairly well but the competitive endgame needs tweaking. Time will work it out. Just need to be patient and playtest, playtest, playtest. =)

That’s it for now – go have fun! =D