14th July 2020 - The Cardboard Designer

14th July 2020

Wherein I a remember just how difficult it is to write a rule book, I’m forced to pamper myself and I make no headway outside of my mind with doctors or farmers!


I decided to sit down for a couple of hours and put together the rule book for For The Hive. If you want to have a look at it you can find it here. It’s very much a supportive document to the ongoing playtests – although sometimes I find having the rule book, I can easily flag parts that need tweaking when actually playing through it with people.

The confidence that I had when I said to myself – “I will sit down for a couple of hours” for the rule book was astronomically high. I had forgotten just how much nuance and tiny rules here and there can be taken for granted when thinking through them vs having to get them on paper for others to see and understand. There is also a fine balance that must be played between being sure not to overload readers with everything at once, but ensuring you feed all the information at the correct points so that everything makes sense. My last game rule book ended up on about V31 before I was comfortable getting it in front of people without any guidance for myself. That was a much bigger game mechanically, I am hoping that the scope of this one will reduce that slightly, but I am not brimming with confidence in that department currently.

I was really happy with the player-experience piece I wrote as it reminded me of a lot of things I have neglected recently when designing games. It’s nice to be back onboard with that!


In other news I had mentioned that I had been working on 2 additional games currently (well in truth, there are about a dozen swimming around my mind, but these 2 are the bigger fish up there at the minute). Plague Doctors has had no work whatsoever – I have had a few glimpses of ideas, but haven’t cemented that one down yet. I think it’s going to be a semi-cooperative game where people must work together, but equally they do want to come out on top themselves.

The second title, which is definitely a worker placement euro strategy that I am currently calling “Amber Fields” is a little further along in my mind. I’ve even started to mock up a few boards in my notebook – probably a little too early to share yet. What I can tell you about it so far

  • Specifically want to set it before the mechanised agricultural revolution – so aiming to set it between the late 18th and early 19th century.
  • You will be the owner of a farm, looking to harvest wheat, grind flour and bake bread – not a million miles away from the way that Viticulture handles it’s wine making process.
  • It will be a worker placement title, but more specifically I want to play around with the idea of “chain gangs” where if you place workers on a chain of places, you get even more bonuses.
  • I want to play around with the idea of having LOTS of workers, so that you feel like you’ve more staff working for you.

I think that is the game fleshed out fairly thematically. I know what the player-experience is – “I want to feel like the landlord of an 18th century farm with lots of staff to command”. I know my core mechanic is going to be worker placement with this chain gang option.

So as far as my work practice goes, I am now in a position where I can really start fleshing things out a bit more. This also means I get to treat myself to a new moleskin notebook – and that in itself is just as exciting as the game design itself!!!


Otherwise, it’s my wife’s birthday this week, so we are going on a little staycation out to Wexford. Give the cats to the in-laws for 3 days and spend as much time as humanly possible floating in a jaccuzzi.

See you on the other side!

— Tom
“What do you call a woman holding a fish?” “Annette” 🙂

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