Mint Tin Pirates 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 Pirates and the post for Aliens is over here.

The Story

learn-more-piratesTwo pirate galleons cross paths and a battle is launched!

All ye scurvy dogs on deck!

But rough seas mean that a little luck goes a long way.

Cannons do the greatest damage, that is when their powder isn’t wet or they don’t miss. But cannons take long to load and you’ll be able to do more attacks by tossing hand mortars, throwing dirks, or firing flintlock pistols.

But those aren’t the only tricks these pirate captains have!

Summon a lost pirate from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker or even persuade an enemy pirate to join your crew!

And, even in the heat of battle, fate can smile down upon this lowly lot and uncover treasure! No pirate can resist treasure – especially if it contains voodoo that helps them fight!

Once you destroy the pirate enemy, you’ve won! Or have you?

The Pirate Ghost gives one last chance and can be a formidable opponent!

Who’s This For

This light and fast game is great when you and a friend (or pirate enemy!) 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. Avast, ye matey!

How It Plays

Game setup is quick with players choosing a color and a matching galleon card. Each player takes their pirates and places them on their galleon. Place the pirate ghost and the gold treasure between the galleons.

Roll the kraken bone dice to see who’s first and shuffle the cards well. Deal 5 cards to each player, face down, and prepare to attack!

Each player can discard 2 cards at the start of each round to try to make a better hand. Pairs attack and a gold doubloon acts as a wild card.

mortarCards also tell you how many of that one are in the deck and its chances of success with markings in the top right.

When you play a pair, see if your attack is successful by rolling the dice. If your roll’s total matches any of the card’s bottom numbers, you succeed!

A pair of knives claims an enemy pirate that you place at the bottom of the sea next to your galleon. Same for a pair of pistols and hand mortars. Hand mortars have better odds than knives and pistols.

A cannon attack is slow but powerful. Odds are that you’ll damage their ship and send an enemy pirate to the watery depths of Davy Jones’ Locker! A successful cannon takes an opponent’s pirate and also moves their damage counter.

Place any pirates you claim to the side of your galleon, laying down. Arr, ’tis a hard life at sea!

Use a gold doubloon to complete a pair but use it wisely to the best advantage.

A pair of Davy Jones’ Locker cards can reclaim any lost pirate and place them as part of your fighting crew on your galleon.

A pair of treason cards claims an opponent’s pirate as one of your own, but this is a rare feat to pull off.

Luck isn’t only about how accurate your attacks are – rolling doubles claims the gold even if your opponent already snagged it! And gold brings you good fate in the form of an additional card to play with. But . . . lose the gold and you lose the extra card too.

The first to lose all of their crew, but still be afloat, gets a last chance with the Pirate Ghost!

Many a fierce sea battle has been won by the Pirate Ghost, even though it has less resources, so be ye warned!

Be ye a clever pirate captain and read the game’s enclosed instructions to get all of the specifics. =)

Ending the Game

This is easy! The first to lose all of their crew, even the Pirate Ghost, loses the battle. Also, if your galleon sinks, you lose!

But only this battle, your paths may cross again . . .

Interrupted Early?

If your lunch burrito arrives too soon and the battle isn’t over, you can still determine who the winner is. Each standing pirate, even the Ghost Pirate, is worth 2 victory points. Each pirate you have claimed is worth 1 point. Add a point if you have the gold.

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 was born from a lunchtime conversation with Stephen Langs who also happens to be my kid’s books illustrator. I happened to have a couple of meeples and dice in my pocket (doesn’t everyone?) and we challenged each other to come up with pirate-themed games.

We both came up with fairly different games, so why aren’t both here? Two words – manufacturing logistics.

The “normal” process for games is to source game manufacturing overseas and that makes sense on some 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 Pirates 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





Sim-on-a-Stick for game art

reprinted from the iliveisl blog & written by Ener Hax

last month i created an OpenSim graphic for possible use in one of subQuark‘s Mint Tin Games

i’m thrilled that it was used for the final deck of Mint Tin Aliens and six copies of that game have already been sold (even though the Kickstarter isn’t for another month) =)

it fit the style of the other graphics well and we then used OpenSim images for the game label. i’ve always thought of OpenSim as a nice way to create 3D graphics for other uses and subQuark has spoken at conferences about using Second Life and OpenSim for this purpose (you can see pics of the actual games on subQ’s blog, where this article will also be published)

playtest card

if you’ve followed this blog in the past, and others for Second Life, you’ve probably seen Wagner Au talk about subQuark’s use of Sim-on-a-Stick for hospitality training videos and for creating 3D art for advertising agencies to show their clients what product displays can look like in cinema lobbies

anyway . . . we are working on another game, Mint Tin Villagers, and subQuark decided we should see about using OpenSim for most of the card art. this game has medieval villagers trying to complete a village before winter sets in and has village cards and merchant cards

the village cards are 2-sided and include a forest for lumber, mountain for iron ore, field for a cow pasture and so on. one side of the village card has the undeveloped resource (like a mountain) and the other side will have it developed (iron ore mine). the merchant cards are things like a pick axe, milking stool, whiskey barrel, and so on (thankful, i have some things like that already built) =)

today i fired up Sim-on-a-Stick 0.8 and used Singularity for my first real time. i wanted nice shadows and graphics and that viewer seems to do a good job (plus i can understand it)

i’m thrilled with the results and will go on to create the other cards, which means creating things like a cheese shop and pub, but only top views

first draft graphics

it’s exciting to use OpenSim for this purpose (and way easier and faster than Blender)

if you’ve never made 3D graphics, I’d encourage you to give Sim-on-a-Stick a try – it’s free and you’ll see how fast it is to learn and to build stuff

the “first draft graphics” here uses stuff that’s all included and is simply doing some terrain editing and using default pine trees. it took me less than 10 minutes to download SoaS and build what you see

the rectangles in the screenshot below are my building guides for making this the right aspect ratio for mini poker cards

have fun! w00t! =D






First games sold!

It’s fun to see some of these Mint Tin games being bought as presents by a friend who will be visiting family in Switzerland. But these aren’t final “production” versions.

In fact, these are what I call the New Hamphire edition.

Yes, New Hamp_hire – I missed the “s” on the labels! Doh! =p

My editor worked her magic on the game instructions but I never ran the labels by her. I should have followed my own advice and had her look at everything! More labels are on the way . . .

Oh well, I’ll consider myself a publisher-in-development – at least until I can spell the state I live in! =D



six of each, Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens, on their way to Europe in the morning


Donating Games – excellent move

posted in: games | 0

Yesterday I blogged about US game libraries, or the lack thereof, and then took to twitter for more searching. I came across a few gaming cafés which also struck me as a nice place to donate games to.

I strongly believe in giving back to the community and donating games seems easy.

Games let us forget our challenges for a moment and give us a wonderful way to interact with others.

For the game designer, donating games can be a bit expensive depending how your game is published.

Donating games won’t bring much attention to your games, and should not be donated with that intent, but it can make a difference. Even just one game can be played over and over again.

I’m fortunate my unorthodox approach to game design allows me to make even small quantities in an economical manner (no need to do minimum runs of 2000 games).

Erin of The Geeky Gimp expanded my perspective by suggesting shelters and hospitals and Nate of MicroStack Games added charity auctions to the list.

I’ll be creating a list of cafés, shelters, hospitals, and charities that seek game donations and make that a dedicated page linked from the sidebar with their contact info.

Personal note – at first I questioned the value of donating to gaming cafés, after all, they are commercial enterprises and some will even rent your game out. They should buy my game! But, gaming cafés nurture and share what tabletop gaming can do and in today’s hectic and stressful world, being able to unplug might benefit us all with kinder human interactions.

I know that’s lofty and such, but isn’t that a nice thought for what your game could do?  =)




US Game Libraries? Do they exist?

posted in: education, games, Mint Tin Games | 0

I heard a story on NPR yesterday where a 22 year old mentioned playing board games with his family for the last 10 years. Sometimes a new family friend would be introduced and it allowed him to develop a more balanced perspective in dealing with different viewpoints and opinions.

A show guest mentioned the positive physical effects that dealing with real people while gaming has, including simple things like high fives and fist pumps. *splode* =)

As board game folks, you already know the benefits of games and I suspect that’s why tabletop games are a larger part of many Western European cultures than here in the US.

That got my little cogs turnin’ and wondering what I could do to help.

Mint Tin Games, which will now Kickstart in September, are fairly inexpensive to make and don’t rely on huge orders to fulfill. I can make them one at a time and don’t need to order 2,000 of each. Of course, it becomes more economical to produce 100 at a time but you get my point.

From what I gather on Twitter, ludological libraries are a big deal in France and that concept is new to me. BUT in the US, a Google search led me to the International Games Day @ your library and not much else. =(

I’d love to donate a few dozen Mint Tin Games to active US libraries and maybe I’m just not searching with the right terminology.

While there’s some positive PR from this for me, it realistically isn’t much but falls in line with other things I’ve done in the past.

Such as our free Sim-on-a-Stick with 40,000 downloads (not even an ad on its website) and me having been a volunteer firefighter and paramedic long, long ago. I believe giving back to the community is important and if a handful of games helps a tiny bit – I’m all for it!

If you know of game libraries, please let me know here or on Twitter. Thanks! =)

Fun Game Design Meetup & Kids Rule

This week was fun – 5000 mini meeples on the dining room table, ordered 18 and a half pounds of mini cards for game reviewer copies (funny to think of them like that, but the shipping cost brought that to light – luckily, an online coupon covered the $100 FedEx fee!).

The highlight was our local Seacoast Game Designers Meetup, run by Kevin (thanks Kevin!), when two students (16 & 18) showed up to play games at Diversions – the host of the meetups.

Kevin invited them over and they played Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens. No guidance, just the tiny instructions. It was awesome to see their approach. They played one game of each helping each other with their cards face up and following the instructions, and then played for real.

Zoe and Ben were so awesome and I consider them my first two game reviewers. =)

I really enjoyed Mint Tin Aliens – can be played anytime,
anywhere, and with anyone!
– Zoe A.

Mint Tin Pirates is quirky & inventive. – Ben S.

I lovingly call them kids in the post title and they’re wonderful people whose thoughts are just as important as anyone’s. Maybe even more so! I tend to think of my inner child creating these games and getting their honest opinions rocks (even totes mcgoats and cho sugoi!). ๑>ᴗ<๑

 Have a great weekend everybody! =)

lol, no pics would be complete without at least one with food! Kate & I at Coco Loco’s seeing how impervious the cards are to cheese and salsa! =D
Seacoast Game Designers Meetup photo courtesy of Kevin Craine
Mint Tin Aliens – I should try the same approach to new games! =)
Mint Tin Pirates – Their suggestions resulted in me staying up til 2 AM adding a great clarification before ordering 70 decks! Thanks Zoe and Ben!

A nice day in Portsmouth for Pirates and Aliens

The family was up visiting so we ventured out and tried a tiny local brewery which has outrageously good sandwiches (and exotic ones too like rabbit and ginger sausage). They also brew a couple of gruits which are medieval ales without hops!

Earth Eagle Brewings

While waiting, we knocked out a few games of Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens.  =)





Later, while being all touristy, my daughter-in-law and myself found ourselves less interested in store browsing than our better halves and a perfect time to plan world domination and see who the better alien leader is. =)



Mint Tin Games gets real cards

Real cards arrived and it was a beautiful night to eat outside in Portsmouth last night and the mesh of outdoor cafe table was just small enough to keep meeples from falling to the ground! =)

Also packed up 2 of each game for a large playtest group Saturday. I won’t be there and the games are packaged just like they will be for reviewers and Kickstarter; it’ll be a good test of the instructions.

Stay tuned for more about Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens!

*goes back to figuring out a simple PayPal experience*  =p

2014-07-31 19.10

Hmm, I’m picking up a food-related trend here . . .

what do guys carry in their man bags?

American culture sometimes has difficulty with the simplest of things. Socks with sandals! Horrid! Men carrying purses? Oh no!

Well I don’t wear socks with sandals, but I’ve tried it and it’s quite comfy. Despite being a frog from Quebec, I’m very American in many ways.

Carrying a bag shouldn’t be a big deal in today’s world but . . . I have a Timbuk2 extra small messenger bag that, without a doubt, is a purse. I have friends that have commented on it with terms such as “murse”, so we aren’t as open minded about things as we sometimes profess to be. o_O

So much for my soapbox and I could go on about being born in a country where the most powerful person, for my entire life, has been a woman – Queen Elizabeth! =)

Now don’t say anything bad about Her Majesty and yeah, I’m weird because most frogs don’t love her like I do, but that’s another story . . .

So what do guys carry in their bags?

Beats me, but I know what’s in mine!

1200 gray meeples for Mint Tin Aliens – don’t tell Giorgio Tsoukalos, he probably already knows! =D




It’s in the bag – well, some of it

While waiting on real cards for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens, I bagged the components for play test copies and reviewer copies of the games. The reviewer copies won’t use this first set of cards but should be ready to go within two weeks. This allows for color correction on the artwork since there shouldn’t be anything drastic from the final play testing (should being the operative word!). =)

Printing is a different beast from online graphics. Color saturation varies from printer to printer and also on paper being used. There are all kinds of obscure tips to keep in mind such as not letting any colors drop below 5% in gradients or else tiny ink dots become visible. Additionally, Printer Studio doesn’t accept press quality PDFs, which is pretty much the industry standard, but they do accept TIFFs which technically allow for higher quality and used to be the print standard.

Complete file size was about 325 MB for both decks and took about 10 minutes to upload to Printer Studio. I’ve read that some designers don’t like the upload and layout tool that Printer Studio uses, but I found it easy and logical to use. I don’t know how you could improve upon it – lots of places to double check your work and plenty of opportunity to tweak before submitting for printing.

Back to bagging!

This was a good test of the time involved and of how realistic it is for this Maker Movement approach (fancy way of saying homemade). The good news is that it won’t be overwhelming to make several hundred copies of the game if the Kickstarter goes well.  =)

Pirates is slower to bag than Aliens and that makes sense because of the components:

Mint Tin Pirates Mint Tin Aliens
2 6-sided 12 mm dice 2 10-sided dice
3 red mini meeples 3 gray mini meeples
3 black mini meeples
1 white mini meeple (pirate ghost!)
1 red cube
1 black cube
1 yellow cube


hi-tech assembly line =p


40 copies of each game – Pirates left and Aliens right


usually Chessex 12 mm dice are spot on, but these were the rejects from three dice cubes (108 dice) – some have inking issues and others seem to have material not fully removed from the pips