MN Tabletop Game Designers 2015 Preview

I am fortunate enough to know a lot of tabletop game designers and publishers, especially in the indie game community. These are people I talk to on an almost daily basis, thanks to podcasting and social media. So when I was trying to figure out a good topic to start writing about, I reached out to some of the people I know and asked them about their plans for early in 2015. These first two articles I write will focus in on the responses I got from Minnesota-based designers and publishers. But I’ve also had enough interest that I will probably follow up with some of the people I know outside of Minnesota who are also working on some great projects. For now though, let’s learn a few things about our fellow Minnesota geeks!


Chip Theory Games, used with permission

Adam and Josh Carlson are not only cousins but also run Chip Theory Games together. If you have attended Con of the North in the last few years, you might remember these guys from their booth, where they usually have a Plinko-style giveaway game running. They’ve had successful Kickstarter projects for Hoplomachus: The Lost Cities and the stand-alone expansion Hoplomachus: Rise of Rome, both of which are gladiatorial combat games that use poker chips as characters, combatants, and health and dice for combat resolution. I’m glad to have both of these games in my collection.

Chip Theory Games will be heading back to Kickstarter during the first quarter of 2015. Their new game is still untitled, but Adam and Josh describe it as a dice-building roleplaying game. The basic premise behind it is a dice adventure being played out by a band of creatures living deep in the woods, yet each one possessing a high aptitude for technology. They are setting out on a time-sensitive and dangerous journey to the north—a place no other forest races have been able to travel in thousands of years. Each day holds a new encounter that will require skillful selection and the use of 16 unique dice and up to 6 base dice for every character. Each player character has a basic function that relates to the group, but you can violate that role and build out your character very differently depending on the dynamics of the party or if you are going it alone.

This requires multiple layers to each character’s dice management, called Professions. These Professions each contain their own mini dice mechanics from simple press-your-luck, roll-and-lock, or combination rolling to more complex choices, including dice as a resource, dice quantity versus die improvement, and dice-use timing.

Chip Theory Games is also working to create a very distinct look and feel to the game by seeking out talented artists to collaborate with; as you can see by the sample image below. Be on the look out for Chip Theory Games and their newest Kickstarter project sometime during the first quarter of 2015. You can also visit their website at and sign up for their newsletter to learn more about the project and when it actually launches.


The preliminary layout for a character mat—dice/skill management. Image supplied by Chip Theory Games.


Matt Worden Games, used with permission.

Next up is a visit with Matt Worden from Matt Worden Games. Matt lives with his wife and two kids in the suburbs west of the Twin Cities, where he works as a business-systems analyst and does tabletop game design and publishing on the side. He is the designer of the award-winning Jump Gate, which he self-published, along with Dicey Curves, Subtilla, and Castle Danger. He is also the designer of Space Mission, published in Europe by Schmidt Spiele. While most of the games he’s published have been delivered as publish-on-demand titles, he has recently announced a return to traditional game publishing in 2015.

Speaking of 2015, Matt has several projects coming up early in the year. Watch for one of his games, Aether Magic, to be launched on Kickstarter in the first quarter by publisher Happy Mitten Games. This game of battling spell casters revolves around a unique social bidding mechanic in which the person who is offering the bid is sometimes more important than the bid itself. With Jacqui Davis on board to do the artwork, this game will not only play well but look fantastic as well.

Matt has also announced his own Kickstarter project, slated for April 2015. Tales of Danger #1: Days of Discovery will be the first in a series of seven games set in his fictional Land of Danger. It is a hand-management card game that can be played solo or with up to five players. Convince a royal to sponsor your ocean exploration from Portugal in 1290 to seek out a hidden land to the west, amass the crew and supplies needed, and carry out the voyage to the shores of the fabled Land of Danger.

Follow all that Matt does on his website at


A sneak peak at the upcoming art for Aether Magic, supplied by Happy Mitten Games.

So there you have two independent game designers and publishers who are right here in Minnesota and looking to do big things in 2015.

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