How I Created a Board Game Without a Design Background

Our game, coming to Kickstarter Fall 2020!

I can’t remember the dream that led to the idea. But what I can remember is rushing to a stack of post-it notes to start writing it down.

It was an idea for a political strategy card game that made you the founder of a society. As the game progressed you would build a social pyramid and elect a leader. To win, you would become the most advanced society in the world.

That idea was a seed — I had the option to discard it and go on with my life or to plant it, nurture it, and cultivated it. I chose the latter.

I didn’t have a design background.

I was not an artist.

I didn’t know what vector graphics were.

All I had was an idea, a pen, and paper. And so I did the only thing I could. I started creating a prototype.

This was our first prototype.

The prototype was a stack of index cards cut into the shape of cards. Their misshapen scissor cut edges stuck out from the sides making them tough to shuffle. I picked up a pack of those multi colored circle stickers from CVS and stuck them on for the game’s resource types. I didn’t draw any graphics on the cards. I just wrote what the name of the card was, what the type of the card was, and what the card did.

In our Boston apartment, each weekend, you could find 4 of us around the table playing the game. Brian, Enya, Steph and I. At first the game would vary from taking just a few turns to end… to lasting over an hour. We had no idea what we were doing. What we did know was this little seed of an idea had something. Little by little, we molded the game to be even more complex, and exciting. It was less luck and more strategy.

I felt compelled to continue.

I began to teach myself Adobe Illustrator with YouTube videos and Udemy courses. Over the next few months, I spent my free time outside of my 9–5 designing a deck of 84 cards.

Like I said, not an artist :)

I created the logo, first sketching it out, and then bringing it to life in Illustrator.

This is Brian, seeing my work.

Once the game art was finalized, we reached out to our father who is a printer. He was kind enough to pay for a prototype for us.

Here is the full first prototype. 25 decks worth.

Receiving the prototype was one of the most exciting moments of our lives. Being able to see and feel our idea in our hands made us think this could be something that we could bring to the world.

But what really made us feel like our game was meant to be in the hands of people all around the world is when we started beta testing outside of our apartment walls. The game was a hit!

Here are some play tests!

We are now in our final stretch to make our game a reality. Our Kickstarter campaigner will launch this fall, featuring a new design from our designer, Sofi. She created the new logo, featured at the top.

Here is a sneak peak some of the art she’s created so far:

Here are the 4 population types! (Subject to change)

You don’t need to be an artist, designer, or an expert in any skillset to make something happen. I keep that lesson close to heart.

The final box art

As a software developer this lesson has acted as a motivator to keep failing, keep learning, and continue to build things that start in my imagination. I encourage you to do the same.

Follow along:


Software Developer — Game Creator — Let’s work together! Reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter @thedrewprint

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store