Swamped has arrived!


Here’s a closer look at my game Swamped! You can pick up a copy now at Bellwether Games.

Swamped is a semi-cooperative game of adventure, peril and treasure in which players move through a swamp searching for a rare herb that can cure diseases. Each player takes a turn steering the boat to find the herb. But the swamp has many other treasures as well, so players may try to steer the boat away from its intended goal to increase their own wealth.

Swamped is a game for 2-4 adventurers that plays in about 30 minutes and expands the vibrant world of Antidote. In addition to a one-of-a-kind theme, there are five core elements that make Swamped incredibly fun and a surprisingly unique gaming experience:

I should also mention that this game would NOT have happened without first and foremost my wife Jenn’s support and help.

Also both my daughters! Izzie for help with the initial game concept and initial play testing and Luca for continued play testing even when getting eaten by a croc got old.

Dennis Hoyle for the amazing job developing, tweaking and generally all around improving the game. Not to forget running the business side of things from pre-production through Kickstarter, manufacturing and distribution.

Jonathan Logan Clark gave the game it’s wonderful look, spent much time in development not only of art but of game play and mechanics and knocked it out of the park.

Dan Quilty, Hetchen Ehrenfeld and Kate Zirpolo Flynn spent hours playing unfinished versions of this game to make it better.

Alan Seymour and Russ Whinnem deserve praise for being awesome!

And a huge thanks to everyone who backed us both financially and emotionally. You all freaking rock!

2825 20160122_174936 20160122_174743 20160122_174607 20160122_174424 20160122_174109 20160122_173918 20160122_173904 20160122_175217


New Year, New Me. Also: Swamped update, Ninja update and Total Confusion 30 Update!


Ninja - coming soon!
Ninja – coming soon!

Here we are in 2016! This is looking to be a good year for me games-wise and will be starting off with a bang! First though, I have to comment on the lack of activity here on Troll. You see, I’m a new man. Literally.

About a week before Christmas I had surgery to repair my right shoulder. Since then I’ve been confined to a giant, sling-contraption that severely limits the mobility of my right arm. I eat with this thing on, sleep with this thing on and do everything with this thing on – I’ve come to thoroughly loathe it. The good news is that as of this week I’ve been cleared by my surgeon to do computer stuff (i.e. typing).

Another reason why the content from me has slowed considerably on this site and why the Indie Talks podcast has vanished is simply time. With a full time job, a lengthy commute, a wife and two children, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to devote to everything I really want to do. One of the things I really, really, REALLY want to do is design games. I’ve chosen to give that priority over blogging and podcasting. That doesn’t mean I’m gone from this site completely – though I wouldn’t expect Indie Talks to return any time soon. I’ll be here periodically updated, reviewing other games and whatnot. Now on to the cool things coming in 2016!


As of yesterday, Bellwether Games have confirmed that Swamped is shipping to Kickstarter backers and off to retail distribution as well. Dennis from Bellwether produced a wonderful How To Play video for the game and it should be available for order from their site in the very near future for those who didn’t Kickstart the game. Also check out your friendly local game stores for copies!


You just lost!
You just lost!

Ninja – Silent but Deadly

I’m very happy to say that Button Shy Games have picked up my game Ninja and will be bringing it to Kickstarter this year. There are no firm dates or details available yet other than the image at the top of this post but I can tell you that I had several offers on this game. I went with Button Shy because I’m really interested in what they’re doing in the small games space and they wanted to do Ninja the way I had done Ninja.

Button Shy are experts at producing small games that play well, are super portable and most importantly fun! Please do check them out.

Total Confusion 30


My local gaming convention – and my favorite convention to attend, Total Confusion is going off again this year from tc30February 18-21 in Mansfield, MA. This is their 30th year running and it’s going to be fantastic! I’ll be there as an industry guest, with a few copies of Swamped on me and running a few other events as well. If you’re planning on attending for a day or for the weekend, please don’t hesitate to let me know and stop me to say hello! I’ve included my schedule at the end of this post. Last year TC hosted a flea market on Thursday evening which was a huge success. This year I’ll be helping to organize and run it so that’s your best chance to bump into me in a psuedo-random fashion. My Saturday is also fairly free as I’ve left some time for me to get some games in.

The Rest of 2016

So that takes us through February. Hopefully I’ll have more exciting table top related things to talk about for the rest of the year! Regardless, 2016 is starting off strong!

Total Confusion Schedule

This doesn’t include scheduled games that I’ll be signing up for to participate in as pre-registration hasn’t opened yet.


Arriving in the late afternoon/early evening.

7pm – Private game.


1pm – 3pm: Seasons 

Seasons is the beautifully illustrated, wonderfully designed game of magicians battling to score the most points, as magicians are wont to do. If you enjoy a bit of card drafting mixed in with a ton of card combos, a few ‘take that’ moments and lots of interesting decisions, come play a game of Seasons! If we have a novice player, we’ll use the basic set. If we have experienced players, we’ll use some of the expansions.

6:00pm – 10:30pm Flea Market at the Auditorium 


10:00am – 12:00pm:  Clubs, Villas and Rhinos – The Friday Morning Ugg-Tect, Dexterity Game Spectacular!

Have you ever wanted to construct a fabulous monument that will stand the test of time, while being directed by a slobbering, pre-literate, club wielding task-master with zero language skills? This is the event for you! In this Friday morning event, you can begin your day with a bash! Also build your own Villa – but do it carefully or it’ll all fall down! Then assist a ½ ton rhino to climb a less-than-stable apartment building!

1:00pm – 3:00pmSmall Board and Card Games: Big Fun!

I love small box games. Cards and board that can almost fit into your pockets make for a great experience in quick games. Many people call these filler games but sometimes what you really want is to get 3-4 games into a two hour period. If you’re curious to check out some smaller games, from Love Letter to Diamonds, Eight Minute Empire Legends to My Happy Farm and more – this event is for you! I’ll be bringing a bunch of my favorites, maybe even my own game, Swamped!


7:00pm – 11:00pm: Talisman with the Dungeon, Highlands and a few house rules

Talisman is the classic roll and move quest game that brings players together so they can all kill each other. In this version, we’ll include an expansion or three and have one house rule – The +1 rule! Every character gets one extra Strength and Craft, turning this 5 hour game into a 3-4 hour game. Also in force – the rule of 5. It takes 5 points to upgrade your Craft or Strength, not 7.

12:00am -> Private event.


10:00am – Noon: Prototype Pitch Workshop – Board and Card Games

Bring in your card and board game prototype and give us a 15 minute pitch! We’ll give you a 15 minute review in turn! First come, first serve! Last year’s event was a big hit so stop by and say hello. Please limit one prototype per person.

I’ll also be around for the rest of the day Sunday to close out the convention – so if you’re hanging about, let’s game!

The road to Swamped is full of crocs and Kickstarters

Swamped print sample, sealed in shrink wrap.
Swamped print sample, sealed in shrink wrap.

Today Dennis from Bellwether Games officially announced that the print samples of Swamped had arrived from China and he was able to show off some amazing pictures of the game in all it’s glory. Wow – it’s amazing to see something that Dennis, Jonathan and I have spent so much time on actually becoming real.

Box open, with the Rulebook.
Box open, with the Rulebook.

Jonathan did a straight up amazing job on making this little game an entire, vibrant universe all to itself – the artwork and graphic design look absolutely amazing. Dennis was wearing many hats during this entire ride, including business owner, negotiator, game developer, and Kickstarter wrangler. Both Dennis and Jonathan also poured a great deal of time into making Swamped a $40 game packed into a $15 box.

Coordinate cards.
Coordinate cards.

It’s hard to believe that this whole journey started back in 2013, almost 2 years ago to the day,  with a design I put together over an evening of thinking about my Grandmother’s art. From there I spun the submission wheel of fortune and happened to get extremely lucky by emailing Dennis at Bellwether. Dennis decided to do a little development work with me and then took a chance on a game that wasn’t yet called Swamped. Here’s a look at the original prototype I printed out.

Baby Swamped!
Baby Swamped!

We signed a contract and off we went! Or more realistically, off Dennis went! He came back to me a little later with a few ideas and a thought about perhaps making this game about taking a journey themed with a tropical swamp. From there it was a lot of development work a bit of bouncing ideas back and forth and from some basic mechanics sprang forth a semi-cooperative experience that we feel is an awful lot of game in a little box!

5 of the Adventurers!
5 of the Adventurers!

Dennis, Jonathan and I put in a good year and a half of our lives play testing, tweaking, and suggesting ideas. We had a ton of friends, play testers and interested readers take a look at the game and the rules – and here’s another public thank you for that! Without your help the game wouldn’t be as balanced and full of interesting (and sometimes wonderfully stressful!) choices!


From there it was off to Kickstarter! 1091 people came together with us to raise $20,504 to bring Swamped into reality. We unlocked 10 stretch goals and did a fantastic job raising the funds when you consider that a pledge for a single copy was just $14 including shipping.


Now Bellwether games is nearing their final goal – getting their copies into the states and off to backers and then retailers! The button has metaphorically been pressed and the game is moving into production in a factory located in China. From Dennis’ update:  Production is expected to take between 30-45 days. Add to that another 45-60 days for shipping the game across the ocean, clearing it through customs, sending it to the fulfillment company and shipping them out to all of you, and it looks like January will be the month you will receive your copies of the game. Bellwether has also pulled the trigger on a few extra copies of Swamped so if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can pre-order them here.

It’s about a month later than Bellwether was hoping for which I’ve already learned can happen, even to the big publishers. When you factor in holidays in China, shipping times, production issues that need to be cleared up before the game is mass produced and all the little nuances that (thankfully) Bellwether games dealt with, I think they’ve done a wonderful job! I’d much rather wait the extra month and get a product that is amazingly colorful and well produced!

This is my first game that I was lucky enough to license to a publisher and I feel a little like I’ve been on this journey with all of you who read these occasional blog posts I make. Thanks to many of you the game is going to be real! I’m happy to share this adventure with everyone and hope that other fledgling designers have been able to come away with at least a little something to help them along the way – even if it’s just the knowledge that this can be done.

I’m also super happy to say that I’ve signed my second game! Button Shy Games (who just wrapped up a really amazing Kickstarter of their own) have opted to bring Ninja: Silent but Deadly into reality! I’m also currently working on development of a third game with a third publisher – but that’s all I can really say right now about that.

Until the next Swamped update hits, which I expect will be that the games are on their way, let’s move!


A big, swampy thank you!

I want to take a moment here to thank everyone who supported Swamped! Whether you backed the Kickstarter, helped me or the Bellwether Games team play test the game over and over again or helped spread the word – THANK YOU!


Please share: 4 days left to get Swamped!


4 days left to get Swamped! 2-4 players, 20-30 minutes, semi-cooperative play with a unique programmed movement mechanic! All this in 35 cards and 2 bits! $12 plus shipping gets the game to your door this December.

That means for about the cost of a movie and a medium movie soda, you can enjoy a highly repayable game with 2-3 of your friends. Or use the solo variant!

The Swamp Tiger expansion is up and we need to get our total to $17,000! That’s entirely doable and I for one would love to see this happen. It’s a great expansion that adds lots of neat, new options to the game.


If you’re already a backer you have our thanks! Please consider sharing this to get the word out! We’d love to hit a few more stretch goals and that means more backers needed!

Bellwether Games also has their two previous titles (I own both, they rock) Drop Site and Antidote available as add-ons for the Kickstarter campaign.


Three Swamped stretch goals unlocked in 24 hours and we’re so close to two more!


Swamped is having a fantastic week! Yesterday we unlocked THREE stretch goals –  boat tokens, croc tokens and the Create Your Own Adventurer card! Let’s take a look!

sboat scroc sadventurer

We are 2 backers away from unlocking Spot UV on the box and just $266 away from unlocking the alternate Start Map! Wow! Thank you! That means if we get just 17 backers today, we’ve unlocked both upcoming stretch goals.


This would be fantastic! And keep us going well on our way towards extra cards and EXPANSIONS! All of us working on the game want to see these unlocked but I can also tell you my personal favorite stretch goal is hidden in there in the expansions!

We’re also working to expand our social media reach to get more folks interested, maybe drum up new backers and reach even more stretch goals. It’s called a Thunderclap campaign. If you have one minute, click this link and give us a hand! Thunderclap is a way to coordinate posts to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr (one, two or all three – your choice) on the same day, at the same moment. This helps build momentum for the Kickstarter campaign and can bring in lots of new backers.

Got a moment? Give a Swamped image a thumbs up on Board Game Geek

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 11.24.11 AM

We’re running a “thumbs” campaign on Swamped over at Board Game Geek. What is this? Board Game Geek is a massive database of just about every board game out there.

Thumbs up’s are what’s given to things people like, including images.
We’ve got an image on there that we’d love you to stop by and give a thumbs up too if you’re a BGG member!

Here’s the link: https://boardgamegeek.com/image/2523245/swamped

The Thumb is the one circled in the screenshot above! If you’ve got 1 minute and wouldn’t mind doing this, we’d really appreciate it!

Here’s the KS link too: http://kck.st/1INnCis

Swamped on Kickstarter could use a social media boost

swamped backer

The Kickstarter for my game Swamped is doing well. It’s already funded and we’re at 113% or so as of this writing. We’d really, really like to get it up to the 150-200% level though so we can knock some of these awesome stretch goals out.

If you’re not a backer, please consider backing! At $14 shipped to the US it’s a fairly easy investment. Another amazingly great way to help out though would be to mention the Kickstarter via Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram – any of your normal social media outlets! We’re using the hashtag #Swamped and would very much appreciate a mention!

Also, here’s the latest graphic featuring everything that will ship with the base game.

whats in the box

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