The Cardboard Edison Award recognizes great unpublished board games
Announcing the winners of the 2017 Cardboard Edison Award!
First Place: Castell
Based on the Catalonian tradition called Castell where teams of people gather at periodic festivals to participate in human-tower-building competitions. Players run Castell teams, moving through the various regions of Catalonia, recruiting Castellers to their team, learning tower-building skills, doing local performances and participating in festivals.
Judges' feedback for Castell
The puzzle of mixing the ability upgrades to maximize your tower scoring potential is phenomenal. This game pushed all of the happy buttons in my brain.
Theme is truly unique and building your tower is extremely satisfying.
The Castell-building aspects were magnificent and engaging; everything else in the game supported that extremely well.
This game is outstanding! Bravo! This game is going to be a huge success and I cannot wait to own a copy!
About the designer: Aaron Vanderbeek / @_beek
Aaron is a video and board game designer and longtime resident of San Francisco, California. He has worked as a game designer for SilverTree Media, Electronic Arts, ngmoco:), ZipZapPlay, Popcap, and is now Executive Producer at Super Lucky Casino. Besides nurturing an overwhelmingly large collection of board games, other interests include world travel, playing piano, vegan cooking, and studying languages.
Second Place: Cobblestone Market
Cobblestone Market is a tableau-building game where players compete to create the most efficient farm. Plant crops to increase your harvest and sell goods at the market for the best price. Invest in animals, which boost your score but also take up space. Use your unique power to become the best farmer!
Judges' feedback for Cobblestone Market
I thoroughly enjoyed this game from start to finish. Decisions were interesting but not overly complicated. Turns were snappy.
As soon as the game ended, I wanted to play it again. This game is solid, engaging, fun and balanced. I honestly loved it!
Easy to play, and great gateway economic game.
I loved this game. Straight up.
About the designer: Dave Berlin / @galvanizedgames
Dave has been playing games since childhood, and recalls designing games for his TI-83 calculator instead of doing his math homework. He took a break from board games for 25 years to play every video game he could, but eventually found his way back to cardboard after a friend bought him Settlers of Catan. He’s been designing board games since 2013. His wife Jessica is an avid gamer who playtests, develops, and mostly suffers through all his designs. They live in San Diego with their two sons.
Third Place: Jane Austen's Dreams
Jane Austen's Dreams is a medium-weight strategy game. You'll play a heroine trying to develop your story so that Jane Austen will wake up and write you into existence first. It includes a unique movement mechanic, pick up and deliver (but where other characters are the goods), and a mash-up of six novels.
Judges' feedback for Jane Austen's Dreams
Great theme, with really solid mechanisms to match. This hits all the "originality" buttons.
The integration of theme and mechanics was seamless. I honestly felt like a character in a Jane Austen novel while at the same time a gamer trying to win the game. I have no idea how you created such a magical experience!
The theme is immaculately integrated, and the card text. Oh my god you two, the card text. You have nailed the theme of this game so hard.
I especially appreciated the power of choice in the endgame; being able to make the choice to remain a strong, independent woman that don't need no man was refreshing.
About the designers: Teresa & Andrew Jackson / @teresawjackson
Teresa used to work in newspapers until she quit work to stay home with two little ones. Andrew teaches middle school math and science. Boredom (for Teresa) and the inability to find childcare led them to serious gaming. Teresa started reviewing games, and the two of them started working on games together. Jane Austen's Dreams is their first design, and they have many more in various stages of completion. They live with their two kiddos and ridiculously hyper dog in Central Oregon.
Designer: Steven Aramini / @stevenaramini
Using dice rolling, hand management and action selection, command your B-17 bomber through a treacherous bomb run to successfully destroy the target!
The Builders of Babel
Designer: Fabien Haond
The Builders of Babel is an interpretation and building game, where you have to get your tower built by the other players, communicating with them only through symbol cards, and interpret the instructions of the other players to build their tower. The player who manages to build the towers the most accurately, composing and interpreting the instructions to do so, will be declared the winner.
Designer: Patrick Marino / @GuildrlandGames
It is the final exam at Frankenstein Academy. Players must study quickly and then use their notes to navigate the test, competing to make the best monster possible using Igor workers in the lab.
Designer: Nat Levan / @OakleafGames
Improve the town of Iceburgh, built on sliding blocks of ice.
Designer: Gabe Barrett / @BGDesignLab
The League is a board game in which players take on the roles of owners of new expansion football teams. During each game, players will hire free agents and coaches and draft new talent to build their teams. They'll improve their players in the preseason, upgrade their stadiums to bring in more ticket sales, and they'll compete in three seasons to win as many games as possible.
Designer: Tyler Lipchen / @tlipchen @pipdreamgames
Lost Luggage is a quick-playing tactical card game for 2 to 4 players. Its driving mechanism is inspired by the Tower of Hanoi stacking puzzle, and it also features card drafting and press-your-luck mechanics. Players take on the role of luggage porters trying to stack, sort, and deliver luggage to airplanes before they depart.
Masters of Sound
Designer: Josh Mills / @JoshuaJMills
In the time of 12-inch vinyl records, the whole album had to be great. In Masters of Sound, players take the role of album producers and must create the best 12-song tracklist possible for their new LP. Over two rounds (A-side & B-side) players draft songs from a central pool, the masters tapes, of Song Tiles until they’ve filled up both sides of their record, making sure songs smoothly transition into the next.
Designer: David Wilkinson / @wilk1dave
A party game of simultaneous charades for 4 to 31 players. Act out silly images Charades-style while looking for other players doing the same. Match symbols with others and after a certain number of matches, race to grab a Medal card!
Designer: Glen Dresser / @glendresser
A cooperative deduction game where players work together to solve logically complex mysteries. Players take on the roles of detectives, and by playing cards and taking corresponding actions, they move about the city, interrogating suspects, following up leads, and arresting fugitives.
Designer: Jessiel Cabasan
Panacea is a worker placement game where players compete against each other by creating and selling pharmaceutical drugs, ultimately hoping to develop a drug that cures without any side effects.
Designer: Michael G. Brown / @mbrown1800conta
Polynesia is an economy-driven strategy game set in the islands of the Pacific. By carefully choosing what gods their people worship, what leaders they follow, and how they spend their time, players determine how their culture grows and who becomes the dominant culture of Polynesia.
Spell Bound Books
Designer: Patrick Marino / @GuildrlandGames
Spell Bound Books is a game about a magical bookstore where all the books have been hexed. Players compete to use magic to unscramble the stacks of books and fill customer orders.
Designer: John du Bois / @JohnduBois
December 1936. Flint, Michigan. The newly formed Auto Workers’ Union has been ignored by Generic Motors, the city’s largest employer. As a final effort to gain leverage, you and your fellow AWU members must shut the factory down with a sit-down strike – a strike where the workers go to work and occupy work stations so that production can’t be completed. A cooperative worker placement game for 1-4 players.
Designer: Andrew Juell
Develop strong colonies to secure lucrative shipping lanes...but the fiercer the competition over each island, the more valuable its trading partners become. Indirectly influence your way to establishing an empire...or perhaps spark a revolution!
Designers: Harvey & Carlie Cornell / @dragonphoenixgm
You direct a super-secret team, known only to a few government officials. As a director of V.I.P.E.R. (Victory through Infiltration, Political Espionage, and Reconnaissance) Ops you will vie with other directors for the best missions. You'll gather resources such as operatives, agents, gadgets, deployment assets, and intelligence to gain recognition. But plan well, because the other agency directors are competing with you for the same resources and only the most cunning director will be named the new chief director!
Wages of War: The Uncooperative Siege Game
Designer: Ben Mora / @MoraGames
Uncooperatively attack the castle in this strategy game of medieval siege warfare!
To be eligible for the award, designs must not be publicly available through any retail, secondary or print-on-demand market, including Kickstarter, before March 2017. Designs must be original works that do not infringe on any intellectual property. Board, card and dice games are eligible. Sorry, no RPGs or videogames.
Submissions must include a brief description of the game, a video overview, and a rules document. See the submissions page for full guidelines and submission fee information.
Designs will be judged based on engagement, originality of theme, and originality of mechanics.
Submissions will go through two rounds of judging. Finalists chosen for the second round of judging will need to mail us a physical prototype for final judging. Finalists will receive full feedback from the judges.
One design will be chosen as the winner, at the judges' discretion. Judges are not eligible to enter.
Designs should be complete and playtested before being submitted. Prototypes do not need to have final artwork or graphics, but they should be clear and usable.
All designs remain the intellectual property of the designers.
Judges for the 2017 Cardboard Edison Award
Click photos for bios.
Can non-U.S. designers participate?
Yes! There are only two restrictions. First, the rulebook must be in English, and the components must be either in English or language-neutral. And second, you must be able to mail a physical copy of the prototype to the U.S. if your design is chosen as a finalist.
Can I submit more than one design?
Yes, you may submit as many designs as you want, provided you pay the entry fee for each.
Is the award only for new designers, or can published designers participate?
The Cardboard Edison Award is open to unpublished games from both new and published designers. As long as the game isn’t publicly available for purchase, it’s eligible.
Is my design eligible if it’s going to be on Kickstarter?
Sorry, the award is for designs that aren’t available as a final product. That includes any games that are on Kickstarter or will be before March 2017.
What if the design was released as a free print-and-play?
That’s fine, as long as it hasn’t been made available for purchase as a final product. But games that are available to purchase through print-on-demand outlets such as The Game Crafter or DriveThruCards aren’t eligible.
How finished does the game have to be?
There’s no hard and fast rule, but we expect that you’ll have thoroughly playtested the game and that it’s complete, or close to it, before submitting it. Complete games will naturally score better with the judges.
Is it OK if I know some of the judges personally?
Yes. To head off any conflicts of interest, each submission will be reviewed by multiple judges, and we'll aim to have judges review submissions by designers they don't know.
Why do I have to make a video?
Video submissions have been used to great effect in game design contests (including ours), and we think it's the best way of letting you highlight what's interesting about your game.
What needs to be in the video?
Use the video to tell us about the game and how it plays. Highlight what makes it unique and engaging. You don’t need to provide a full rules explanation or playthrough. And keep it brief. No more than 5 minutes. Your video can be as simple or complex as you wish, but we won't be looking at the video's production values when we evaluate the submissions.
Do I need to be in the video?
No. If you'd rather not have your face or voice appear in it, your video can describe the game using visuals and text. One option we'd recommend looking into is Adobe Spark Video.
What will the submission fee be used for?
The submission fee will help offset the costs of the award itself. We expect that the most significant expense will be the final judging event--volunteers need to eat!
What do I get if I win?
We created the Cardboard Edison award to recognize a great unpublished game design. We’ll promote the winning design on our website and through social media. Also, the winner can use the award logo in any marketing materials for their design. In addition, all finalists will receive in-depth, detailed feedback from the judges’ panel.
Will I get feedback even if my design isn't chosen as a finalist?
Yes! We will pass along notes from the judges that evaluate your submission.
How many finalists will be chosen?
About 10, but we might choose slightly more or less depending on how the first round of scoring goes. We also might give some games honorable mentions.
Can I get my prototype back after final judging?
Yes, we can send your prototype back to you or to a third party, if you like.
Any Other Questions?
Contact us at any of the social-media accounts below.