Christmas Games

Christmas brought a couple puzzles and board games to our home. Stampede is a set collection card game with animals as stamps that seems fun. We’ve only played it once so far, so we’ll see long term.

But the larger purchase was Tiny Towns, which is an abstract strategy game with a phenomenal theme of cute little woodland critters building their towns. The artworks and graphic designs is fantastic. It plays up to 6 players, which Tamed Beast Games enjoys, and is only 45 minutes for a game. We are really enjoying it, and I suspect it will be a family favourite for some time. There are some downsides, as some of the buildings are far better than others, and it lends itself to most parties only building 3 or 4 different types of building.

As for puzzles, its Ravensburger all the way…


Handcrafted Games

I probably don’t do quite as much work connecting and networking in the board game industry as I should. To be honest, most of my “board game” time is spent playing or making games! However, I have been lightly following a fantastic site/blog called More Games Please, which is all about board game art. There is little that is more important than the presentation of a board game to me, and it is one of the most important elements in providing an immersive experience. Before I ever played Scythe, I loved it, or at least wanted to love it, because of the artwork. Recently, Ross Connell, who runs the site, highlighted a toy/board game manufacturer called Timbrook Toys who are handcrafting small batches of a board game called Hedge Lord.

Hedge Lord

The labour of love here is just so inspiring, and the throwback/retro feel so good, that I wanted to highlight this game for you. It has even got me thinking how to inject subtle aspects of irregularity/uniqueness into my game elements so that each game feels like a unique creation, rather than something that has quickly come off the printing press.



Zoospionage: Matterhorn Playtest Nov 7


Saturday evening was perhaps one of the last in-house playtests of the drafting game Zoospionage: Matterhorn before we expand play-testing. Zoospionage is a 30-45 minute family game in which you draft animal robot spies to break into an evil mega-corp. Each player gets two approach cards to navigate and then all share the centre compound cards.


  • The balance of money and power, the two resources, was really good. The player who was out in front (and ended up winning the game) chose to wait one round before entering the centre to gain enough resources. And yet no one player was completely stymied by lack of resources. This was one of the biggest issues in our last playtest.
  • There were some great puns throughout the night, even though groans predictably accompanied them: when a player's Intelligence agent was take out- "that's ruff" (Intelligence is a dog); when a player chose the least expensive agent possible- "it's cheep" (Surveillance is a bird)
  • It seems almost ready!

Needs Work

  • The game took just a little bit longer than I expected with most players having played at least one earlier version. I want to keep it to a 30-45 minute game.
  • There is one aspect of the rules that is a little unintuitive. Not sure yet whether there is a way to make it more intuitive with the icons, but once you know (or read the rules) it's a pretty simple matter.
  • We decided that one of the agents- the Infiltrator- ought to have a special ability to add in one more element of interaction between players. Now working on what that should be. The current interactive aspects are the card drafting each round ("NO!! I needed that one"), the fact that the Saboteur hurts players to the left and right, and choosing one of the four locations in the centre once players are there.
  • Next steps towards publishing include the rulebook and some graphic adjustments to the cards

Reviewers to Check Out Pt. 1

Over the last week We’ve been in contact with a number of board game reviewers about Festival! These are phenomenal content producers in their own right. While we can’t possibly highlight them all, here are a few worth checking out.


Purple Phoenix Games are putting out a ton of great reviews in print and seem to have a particular emphasis, though certainly not exclusive, on gateway games. Check out their impressive list of reviews here.

Love 2 Hate is Lance and Sam and they have a fascinating premise for their Youtube Review Channel: trying to turn non-gamers into gamers. As such, the emphasis is on gateway and family games. I count four children in the background, so that alone makes me a bit of a fan. Check it out!

Next time, I’ll highlight a couple more of these great content creators.

Art Preview for Zoospionage: Matterhorn

Made a recent change to Zoospionage: Matterhorn (working title) to promote a little more fun and add to the game narrative in the end game. Introducing the Matterhorn bosses: The Orb, Snapper, Hoverfoe, Gunsuit, Spiderbot, and Walker. We’re still working on the cards and who they target, but I’m excited and think they look great. Once more- we are looking for some good playtesters for this 3-8 player game.

Now… where’s the paper cutter?

Learn your maths!

Caleb, a good friend of Tamed Beast Games (and game problem-solver par excellence), works out the probability of various agents succeeding in the end game in Zoospionage, a current project. I was always a humanities guy, but man do I wish I had applied myself a little more in mathematics! Would have come in handy with these kinds of calculations. And no, we didn’t quite get the probability equation figured out, but this was a good intermediary step as we try to put it together. Fun!

The moral: stay in school and learn your mathematics. For probably lots of reasons, but maybe board game design will be one of them.

Birthday Purchase

Recently it was my birthday and so I spent some of the birthday money (thank you!) on a key investment in my game design, this phenomenal and detailed book, Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design, by Engelstein and Shalev. It’s pricey, but part of designing is developing and growing in skills. Looking forward to receiving it, and who knows what ideas will jump into my head because of it.

Often I will start a game board design with a theme in mind, but even then, often very early in the process, I will think of a particular game mechanic around which the game revolves. Not all games need a unique mechanic, but it often helps!

Playtesters Wanted for Zoospionage


We are looking for playtesters for a 30-45 minute drafting game called Zoospionage: Matterhorn. If you are interested, send us an email at paul (at) and tell us why you would be a good playtester for this game.

Production Quotes

Just received the first quote from a board game manufacturer for a print run of Festival! It’s exciting to work through the numbers and begin to plan for a possible Kickstarter campaign. You learn so much going through this process, for instance where the big costs are, and where mass production brings down costs (some parts more than others). It would be nice to establish a relationship with a production company for future releases, so I’m taking notes not just on bottom-line price.

Shipbuilding Playtest 1


Friday we had a couple people over and rolled out our new shipbuilding game, very tentatively called Timber & Tackle. In the game you control a shipyard in one of seven major European cities in the 17th Century. The gameplay surrounds a couple unique mechanics:

  • A victory point-monopoly awarded every round across four ship-tonnage categories. This award is half-blind, as you add the constantly upgraded port developments to per-round ship builds. So there is an element of surprise every round in what each player has chosen to build.
  • Actions take place based on turn cards with one major and choice between two minor actions. You can add turn cards (and perhaps lose them too) throughout the game to add turn choice and be able to plan your turns accordingly.
  • The player boards take you through a rough approximation of the historical development of the port in that city with benefits and

The game is designed to be mid-weight and we are once again aiming for a large player count, with at least 7 players, so this requires economy of action and time each round so the game doesn't get unwieldy.


  • The right people were playing and have offered great feedback. Not afraid to work through some play-test issues.
  • The game was enjoyed!
  • Although there were some issues with the main game mechanic (monopoly-award), there was at least one moment that captured the goal of the mechanic: "What!? You built whaling boats too! No way. Ughhh." Nice to see.
  • The theme seemed enjoyable. Obviously, we've done a wee bit of work with the design/art already to convey a bit of the shipbuilding theme, and MUCH more remains to be done, but it was a good start.
  • M&M's, BBQ chips, Ginger Ale, and (as it happened) a boy's night. No- this has nothing to do with the game itself. Still positive. LOL

Needs Work

  • Not sure drafting of agents adds much to the game. Need to think it through.
  • Guild and crown cards need to be differentiated
  • Decided to make income based on the every-round port development tonnage, rather than the tonnage built out of your hand.