Rule Books

Writing a good rule book is very time consuming. With each game I’m refining my skills. I aim to make the first draft really good in an attempt to reduce the number of edits needed – not that it always plays out like that!  This week I’ve spent many many hours working on the first draft of the Uranus! Rule Book and I’m still not finished. I create the words and instructions for the artist, Anastasia Cartovenco, and graphic designer, Marina Tsareva. So as well as writing the text, I create mocked up images of what I need them to do (much better). 

The images I provide to the team are a mixture of photographs and annotated prototype graphics. I rely on a lovely online graphics program called Piktochart. I can create things that, while hardly beautiful, are competent and do explain what I’m looking for. In fact, I use Piktochart to create most of my prototypes, so I’m a bit of a whizz! 

I’m hoping to finish the first draft of the rule book over the weekend so that I can start work on the Art Brief and hand over to Anastasia.

There is a double-level hall where most of the board games publishers, manufacturers and distributors are represented, where I spent most of my time. But this is just one of TWELVE halls. 

There’s a massive hall full of plush toys, one showcasing electronic toys and two housing the wooden toys. There’s even a hall just for model railways. Many other halls contain exhibitors that have ranges of different toys and games. I spent a very happy afternoon exploring the party & festival hall inch by inch with Bez and Rob Murelli (designer of Four Elements). We found a sofa made of cuddly toys, put our hands in an indoor firework display learned a lot about balloons.

The set up of a 4-player game of Uranus – to help the graphic designer illustrate the rule book


The world’s biggest Toy Fair – Spielwarenmesse – has been taking place in Nuremberg this week… and I visited for 2 days. I also managed to get into the city grab some lunch and visit an excellent board game shop!

I spent most of day one with Ray Wehrs from Calliope Games. Calliope Games have a similar philosophy to The Dark Imp and share a focus on family gaming. We chatted about the board game industry and discussed possible ways of working together. Ray introduced me to some of his contacts who may be able to assist in producing Dark Imp games at a more reasonable cost price… AND I got a sneak peek at the games that Calliope are releasing this year and next. Very exciting. 

On day 2, I met up with Bez Shahriari (designer of Kitty Cataclysm and the ELL deck – watch my video here) for the afternoon and we power-walked around the board game hall. On the way, I was pleased to meet John Yianni (designer of Hive and others), had a great chat with him and his wife and traded one of my books for one of his games. Well it is a “trade” show.


I also managed to squeeze in one playtest sessions, with good friends Sophie and Sam. We played Beach Life, which is one of the roll & write placemat games, which went smoothly and was fun. Uranus came out again – this time with a random set up. We won the game with a turn to spare, which triggered a discussion about how to make it just a touch more challenging. In the game we weren’t very affected by asteroid attacks. The attacks are supposed to create an urgent problem that distracts players from their long term plans. But we drew a lot of small attack cards which kept us pretty unaffected. As a result I’m changing the distribution of impact cards and adding symbols to cards so that you can adjust the set at the start of the game to create a beginner, normal or advanced play deck. 

We also played Dirty Business, the tile placement game about building and scoring sewers, which worked nicely. 

This week ahead is going to be a good one. I’ve got some VERY exciting news… Watch this space!