Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse in early play tests

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This is really kooky and all Kate’s fault! Out at a local tiny family restaurant, she pulls a beat up Altoids Smalls container from her purse, tosses it like a gauntlet onto the table, and says “how about this for a game?”

Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens were a huge logistical challenge. The game play was heavily dictated by the form factor. 64 cards is the max that will fit, especially when the cards puff up a little from shuffling and bending.  And there was no way to get instructions printed and folded to fit the tin without costing a few dollars each! =(

hand ink stamped? 2 stamps? one red & one blue – sheesh!

So a mini tin?

My American can supplier does have a size close to it and 720 come in a carton, but they are less than half the size of the normal mint tin! o_O

  • normal – 3-11/16″ x 2-5/16″ x 3/4″
    or 6.4 cubic inches
  • mini – 2-5/16″ x 1-7/8″ x 1/2″
    or 2.17 cubic inches

But . . . 12mm dice fit, mini meeples fit, so there’s the challenge. A logistical and game play challenge.

No cards? Ugh, that limits what you can do big time!

But here it is below, kind of in action, I almost gave up because my shoulder was hurting from frantically rolling the dice so many times and so quickly (and lunch came!). It’s a bit like cutthroat Escape: The Curse of the Temple.

What about the Inimitable Kate?

She’s a beast. She’s ruthless and laughs when she knocks me back down or tosses me out of the shelter!


Maybe this will be the next Kickstarter, but another game too, I do like the pairs! =)

btw, if you read the blog but didn’t know, Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens is live on Kickstarter!


game setup – all mini meeples are down! maybe an EMP?
sorry for the blur, i have like a 5 year old samsung and it doesn’t have many pixels! =D
first you have to stand, then get to the shelter, then get one box of supplies, then . . .
ha! I won! in the shelter and closed the door! yeah, we left Alice behind, but the good of the many outweigh the need of the one!


Recycled image below from two posts back, but it makes me grin! =D

Have a great weekend!




Kickstarter video and test images

Tuesday is the Go Date for our Mint Tin Games Kickstarter! o_O

Here’s the Kickstarter video. It’s pretty raw but genuine (I was a nervous wreck filming this with my ancient Flip video!).

You want to really laugh? Turn on the automatic YouTube captions! =p

And the two images here are just a test to make sure the copy-and-paste code for “social” images works (The KS page turns it into a link but seems to work). =)

Mint Tin Pirates

Mint Tin Pirates


Mint Tin Minis?

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While at dinner the other night, Kate and I were talking about the upcoming Kickstarter (OMG! this Tuesday! I’m such a friggin’ nervous wreck!)  and the next games we want to make.

She takes an empty Altoids Smalls tin from her purse and says

what about Mint Tin Minis?

And she was serious! o_O

There are some big advantages to make games a la Maker Movement style at home with materials that aren’t all custom made. It’s allowed us to send out 3 dozen each of Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens to out-of-state play test groups and then reviewers, and even sell some! With a “traditional” board game, prototypes would have easily cost 5 to 10 times more!

I have a game design meetup friend who launched a successful Kickstarter but his prototypes ran $50 each!

Not only cost, but space advantages too!

I posted earlier the pic of a carton of 432 mint tins and Bella the cat. It’s not a shoe box but it’s also not so big as to be a logistical issue.

So when Kate tossed out the mini gauntlet at dinner, I pulled out dice and meeples from my messenger bag and started futzing with game ideas while waiting for our food (hmm, seems to be a common theme with us). =D

So 4 12mm d6, 8 mini meeples and one normal sized “monster” meeple, plus instructions printed on a components wrapper (like the paper in Altoids), may actually work! The outside label might be the biggest challenge (and making a fun game!). =)

ridiculously portable!


much smaller than current mint tin games (my Pirates copy is beat up from jumping on it to see how it stands up)


 UPDATE 26.09.2014 14:35 – The theme is set!

oh yeah, this is for real and it’s on like Donkey Kong! =D

What’s next for subQuark games?

Chaz Marler of Pair of Dice Paradise made an incredible review and demo video for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens. To say I am blown away is an understatement. You have to see it first-hand because it’s not just that it’s a great review of these games, but his production value is phenomenal! From a very well scripted flow to impressive visual animations to funny out takes, Chaz has mad video skillz! =)

I’m very happy with his perspective as it reflects what I was hoping for with these games – light, fast, and easy to play in many environments.

Tonight is a great example of how this “style” came about. My daughter and daughter-in-law are over and we’re all in the kitchen cooking chicken piccata (I stole away for 3 minutes to blog this). Four of us in our modest 1955 kitchen which has a small round table in it. So while we prep various parts of the meal, we’re chatting, fawning over Artemis the pug, and enjoy each other’s company. Mint tin games allow us to stay in the conversation and also get some light gaming in.

Now back to Chaz who asked what was next for us.

I’ve been messing with a cooperative mint tin game and am bound and determined to make it work. That would be a third very different game play for the small, but growing, mint tin family. You may have seen past posts talking about Mint Tin Villagers and that’s the working title. It’s being a bit elusive and clunky, but eventually, a breakthrough will occur that will make it work.

Add to that the possibility of Mint Tin Pillagers, another cooperative game for 2 players and maybe, just maybe, a way to connect Villagers and Pillagers to make a 2 or 4 player combo game!

Stay tuned, watch for the September 30th Mint Tin Games’ Kickstarter, and do go read and view Pair of Dice Paradise’s awesome review! =)

lots of prototyping and knocking the head against the wall but eventually . . .

Tiny Environmental Win for Micro Games?

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This week I received a carton of mint tins that will be used to create some of the Mint Tin Games for the September 30th Kickstarter.

I’m not assuming that the Kickstarter will be a success, but I like being prepared.

Plus there are some local opportunities to sell these games at holiday school events and help fundraising too. I also learned that I can get a street vendor permit for $45! Maybe I’ll roam the streets of Portsmouth with an usher tray loaded with games and my PayPal phone swipey dealio! =D

Pinterest DIY on making an usherette tray

The Kickstarter is actually only for funding the game card printing – all the other parts are funded by me. It’ll make more sense once the KS goes live – I figure if others are willing to part with their hard earned money to make this happen, so can I!  =)

Back to the carton . . . *those tangents!*

It’s surprising how small the carton is when you consider it has 432 tins in it! That’s 432 game boxes!

So what’s this got to do with the environment?

It’s a stretch but as a former Environmental Science professor, I saw the small packaging as having a much smaller environmental impact for shipping than “normal” sized games (plus a smaller impact on the pocket book!). But then, you could argue that game apps have virtually no carbon footprint – unless you consider that Google has over 3 million servers running and that two searches uses enough energy to boil a kettle of water for tea . . .

Happy Talk like a Pirate Day! =)

Carcassonne is a smallish game box, Bella is a large cat, and the carton of mint tins is rather small.

Mint Tin Games listed at BoardGameGeek

Another milestone for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens (MTP and MTA?) – they just became listed in the BoardGameGeek database!

w00t!  =D

BoardGameGeek is my Go To source for just about anything and everything board game related. From deciding what games to buy for our family to learning what other game designers are doing and how they’re doing it.

That last bit – how they’re doing it – has been invaluable in developing these little games. The wealth of knowledge and resources are staggering – from die-cut chipboard to custom dice to writing rules.

But . . . now that both of these games are listed, I’m also stressing out! o_O

This is where the rubber meets the road (or the dice roll off the table!) because ratings can now happen and I know that I tend to view those as the gospel when looking for games to buy.

I’ve just uploaded photos (mainly ones already here on the blog) and those have yet to be approved but, overall, this is an exciting milestone. =)

As new games, they have a rating of 0.00 out of 10, so I guess that only means they can go up from here!  =D

BGG links -> Mint Tin Pirates | Mint Tin Aliens


BoardGameGeek, typos, and rules

Thanks to BoardGameGeek, a typo and an incorrect word were discovered this morning for the instructions to Mint Tin Aliens.

A professional editor worked on the rules but that doesn’t mean I can type them in Illustrator without making a mistake! *doh!*

Emile from BGG requested more complete rules be included for the Mint Tin Game database entries so I typed them directly from the instructions printed on the game cards. Those errors could have conceivably made it all the way to the actual Kickstarter Edition of the games and I would have been devastated (well, I wouldn’t have approved of my sloppiness). =p

This also gives me the impetus to create the online versions of the instructions as suggested by Erin of The Geeky Gimp (thanks Erin!).

Online instructions that can be read by a text reader (30 million adult Americans can’t read) and a PDF version extend the accessibility to these games.

Stay tunedKickstarter launches September 30th! =)

quelle horreur o_O


Mint Tin Games in Europe

I’ve never been to Europe and it’s something I’d like to do (especially since my mom is from Picardy, France and way back on my father’s side Müller became Miller).

But in the meanwhile, Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens have made it over! =)

A friend from work brought over a dozen games as gifts for his family (quote below). These pics are in Switzerland and the one with the cows is almost too stereotypical! =)  *ooh, hope they don’t get abducted*

Additionally, a reviewer in Germany is currently looking at the games and, thanks to him, I’ll be offering an international reward on the Kickstarter which will be September 30th to October 26th. Give him a shout out on Twitter for helping to open this door! =)

My kids LOVE your games. Jessa prefers Aliens and Will leans towards Pirates. I probably played each of them 15 times while there. Every time we got on a train Jessa and Will would ask to play.






Labor Day weekend & 3500 friends

I guess I put the labor in Labor Day this year! =D

I spent several hours spread across the 3 day weekend moving mini meeples from one set of baggies to another – woof, no wonder game designers get their stuff made overseas! This maker movement stuff isn’t much fun.

But everything doesn’t have to be fun all the time. There was a nice feeling of accomplishment when the last baggie was done. It was satisfying to go from start-to-finish with a task (even with the sore fingers now). =)

The mini meeples come in bags of 25 and I had 1500 red, 1500 black, and 500 white ones (Pirate Ghost!). They get rebagged into groups of 3 red, 3 black, and 1 white PLUS they have to be all laid flat inside the baggies. o_O

Even though the Kickstarter is 4 weeks away, there was a question of color availability and up to 2 months lag time so I ordered these ahead of time to be certain they’d be here.

Remaining to do are bagging the dice and wood cubes for Mint Tin Pirates and bagging dice and meeples for Mint Tin Aliens (there are 1500 gray minis for that in the pic below).

The tin labelling also needs to be done but dice and tins won’t be ordered until the Kickstarter nears funding. I’m getting a quote on printed tins as well as printed and embossed but am torn on that route. That would mean a lot less work for me (placing the labels on the tins by hand isn’t hard, but it is slow).

Printed tins would look professional – maybe too professional?

There’s something about the manual part of putting these games together that seems nice to me. Even though it means hours of sitting there, maybe it harkens back to slower times.

Games give us a chance to slow down and that’s important for us, I believe. =)

Enough of my tin can philosophy – time to go enjoy some beautiful Labor Day weather here on the Seacoast!

Happy Labor Day everyone and Happy Labour Day to my fellow Canadians!



Mint Tin Aliens Overview

This is one of two posts which are identical in some parts. They are meant to provide background to game reviewers who have offered their valuable time to take these games for a spin and share their thoughts about them. This one is for Aliens and the post for Pirates is over here.

The Story

learn-more-aliensGetting ahead in life often means learning new things and taking on new projects, the Fearless Alien Recruits in Training Program is just what you need.

You go head-to-head against another eager recruit and work hard to earn Merit Awards in what might determine who the next Invasion Leader is.

And where does this program take place? Earth, of course!

Show your proficiency with map reading and get to Earth, demonstrate your maneuvering skills by creating crop circles, prove your mastery of advance technology with the abduct-o-tron, and show that you can bend humans to your will with remote mind control!

Don’t miss an assignment or you’ll lose points. But you can make up points by doing extra credit. Even get a bonus for completing one of each Merit Award first!

Who’s This For

This light and fast game is great when you and a friend (or fellow aspiring world conqueror) have a few minutes to burn when ordering lunch, hanging out waiting for others, in the kitchen cooking with family, or even camping.

The play is easy and allows for conversation.

Casual is what this is all about and 10 minutes is all you need. Cows aren’t just for abducting, they’re vital to cheese production too!

How It Plays

Game setup is quick by setting out all of the Merit Awards, rolling your saucer-shaped dice (and assignments missed indicator), and shuffling the task cards. High dice goes first, then claim a dice and set it with 9 facing up.

Place 5 task cards face up beneath the Merit Award cards and deal 4 to the first player and 5 to the second. Place the remaining cards face-down.

from the Pioneer plaque

On each turn, take two cards from either the face-up cards (replacing each immediately) or two from the face-down deck or one from each.

The only exception are the moolti-pass cards. If you take one that’s face-up, it counts as both. But if it’s face-down, it’s like any other card. Moolti-pass cards are wild and can be used to complete groups (even using several at once, but your alien opponent may not think that’s fair).

Take and flip over Merit Awards by playing the number of tasks for each. Only 2 ufos are needed for sightings, 2 crop circles for we’re here, 3 cows for abduction, and 4 brains for mind control. Any matching pair can be used for extra credit.

You’ll likely need to shuffle the discarded cards once to complete a game.

Ending the Game

When all the merit awards are claimed, it’s time to see who’s done the best.

Add up all of the points for the merit awards, then add to that the number of cards, and then the number of meeples you have (first to collect one each of the four awards gets two meeples), and then add the number from your saucer dice (or die since you each have one).

Highest wins!

It’s possible to have a tie and, in that case, thumb wrestle, play rock-paper-scissors, best 2 out of 3 on dice rolls, or flip a coin!  Or maybe both of you can be the best!

Stack the deck in your favour and read the game’s enclosed instructions to get all of the specifics. =)

Interrupted Early?

Count up your merit award points and any meeples and add the dice number.

What’s Next?

A Kickstarter scheduled for September 30th and possibly making this game available to purchase online.

There are no current plans to distribute this via game distributors, but retailer packages will be available for friendly local game stores (flgs!). That’s partly to keep the price low and because these are “homemade”.

Games will also be donated to shelters, hospitals, and charity auctions.

Games can lift the human spirit, imo.  =)


This game is a follow-up to Mint Tin Pirates with completely different play and a pair of games is more interesting for a Kickstarter project too. It follows the same philosophy in its “manufacturing” process.

The “normal” process is to source game manufacturing overseas and that makes sense on many levels. It costs about 40% what it does to have it made domestically and someone else is doing all the labor!

But that also means ordering a decent quantity of games – on the order of several thousand! Even with the savings in cost, that’s a lot of cash to come up with.

I believe that a small game like Mint Tin Aliens can be made at home, a la Maker Movement if you like.

The key is to source materials that are readily available. No custom printed boxes, no custom die-cut parts, but things like dice, cards, and meeples. Luckily, custom playing cards are fairly affordable, even in small quantities.

It’s all been sourced as much as possible in the US and the suppliers can meet the hopefully successful Kickstarter demand.

Full Kickstarter copies of the game went out this week to reviewers here in the US and Canada.  =)

About Me

Well, I’m David and my inner child runs free and far. I was born in Quebec and have lived in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Ontario, Texas, and Florida. I’m now in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and aspire to be an author. A kids’ book author, of course. =)

I have 5 books written for 7 to 9 year olds and the first will be published in November. Through these books, I developed a friendship with Stephen, my illustrator, and he’s quite the board game resource it turns out! Since I’m self-publishing the books, I thought why not do the same with games.

I’ve been a secondary school teacher, college professor, volunteer firefighter & paramedic, geologist, and now an eLearning developer. As the last, I’ve spoken at some conferences about the use of Second Life/OpenSim as a 3D graphics tool to create training videos.

What attracts me to games is the the escape they provide and the chance to connect with people on a true one-to-one basis. In today’s often hectic world, being able to slow down and enjoy the company of a friend can be a challenge – I hope these little games can help provide that opportunity.  =)


Past blog posts have pics of both Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens being played in Portsmouth. All photos on the blog are free to use with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (there’s no need for attribution though).

Gameplay videos will also be placed online for the Kickstarter as well as kooky vids showing the tins being run over by my little Scion! =D