One day, while working at my full-time job at an after school program, we were playing some card games. Being an avid gamer, I have always been interested in the game design process and I decided that I should start creating some games of my own. That evening I got out a pencil and scribbled down some ideas on some paper. I had a few games on the list, but one that stuck out was a card game loosely based on “Cow Pie Bingo“, where you had to play cow cards in certain areas of the field to beat the other players; sort of “War” like with a trump suit in the four fields. The game was ok, but not that much fun. We tested it a few times, and I got the idea that it wasn’t a very fun game when I asked if people wanted to play again. They kindly declined. So it was back to the drawing board and out came a set collection type game that involved suits and a little math. Living on the Seacoast I tried to pick a subject that people could relate to, but I could not think of anything that caught my fancy.
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While walking around downtown Portsmouth, NH one day, I passed by Tugboat alley and the idea hit me. Tugboats. They help ships into the harbor and there are many different kinds. The next day I was armed with a regular deck of playing cards and some crudely drawn “ships” on index cards. I developed the rules: you would try to help (score) a ship by collecting and playing a certain combination of cards in front of you. We played around with different sized staring hands, drawing different numbers of cards per turn, drawing from a draw pile or from the discard, forced discards, and some action cards. This went on for a few weeks. Every chance I got I played the game with different people and changed the rules to make the game more fun. Then, once I had a game I just needed some artwork and to flush out the theme a little more because I knew my stick figure ships drawn on index cards and old beaten-up deck of cards would not cut it too much longer.
I put out some feelers to other gamer friends, and went on the search for an artist…