Designer Journal – Tugboats! #1 – The Inception

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.   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...