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  • Writer's pictureThomas Cardwell and Updates

Hello! I'm back with some updates on games and a new website,

I've been doing some voice acting for fun, and kept hunting for various sources I could utilize for practice reading aloud, doing characters, etc., so I decided to build a website to help me with just that!

An excerpt of the tea party scene in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The site respects your dark mode, and your attention span. is a website I put together as an inviting way to get a daily reading from a poem, novel, play, etc. with no distractions. Each day, all users get the same excerpt. You can read a play with friends, see how dramatic you can make a romantic poet sound, or just cozy up with some coffee and a daily read.

It's somewhat of a game—a daily interactive tool that helps with reading practice. My design thesis for this was to build an experience that fosters imagination without demanding attention. I have experience as a software engineer, but I knew I wanted to do something very simple and streamlined for the sake of both user interaction and tech upkeep. I'll do another discussion about the technology later, there are game updates to get to!

Text from Don Quixote: "In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever madman in this world hit upon, and that was that he fancied it was his right and requisite, as well for the support of his own honour as for the service of his country, that he should make a knight-errant of himself....
Mmm. Smells like books.

Element of Surprise

I'm chugging along at 130+ playtests of Element of Surprise and have added a rather significant change in the last 15 playtests: specialist tokens. As a refresher, on what the game is:

Element of Surprise is a 3-6 player card game in which players try to gain the most Fire, Earth, and Water Elements by utilizing Power Cards such as Earthquake, Volcano, and Tidal Wave. Steal Elements from opponents, exchange powers, and convert between Element types, surprising your enemies with hidden bonuses and strategic effects. Amass the most Elements over the course of five rounds to secure victory.

Specialist tokens add to the game by providing an in-game race to a certain number of elements. The first player to 12 of an element type gets a specialist token, worth three points at the end of game. This token cannot be stolen.

It has certainly been satisfying seeing a game I have played many times settle into itself, and this addition has done just that for me. It helps players have a mid-game goal, and further plays into the interactivity of the game as players scramble to prevent each other from getting a bonus.

Colorful Element of Surprise cards on a warm wooden table.
New cards!

I've also subbed out the poker size cards for the larger and more-easily-readable-from-across-the-table-when-you-want-to-steal-a-power-card tarot size, and that has felt like an improvement and an aesthetic fit for this party game with strategy elements.

More Games???

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm intrigued by the idea of imposing design limitations as a way to streamline games but also lets you practice in a space that is often resource limited (e.g. how can you reduce/alter components to make a game financially viable to print). To that end, I am developing ten games that all utilize the same set of components. I'll likely be diving into each of them in detail in subsequent posts, but currently there is a deckbuilder, a set collection game, a worker placement game, and a few more that are in the works!


That's all for now!


Fun Games of the Week:

- It's hard not to keep coming back to The Crew. It's an excellent game to play while friends are trickling into a game night, and the cooperative and social elements as a trick-taking game hit right just about every time I've played it.

- Not a game I can comment on having played since it has yet to come out, but the clocktower centerpiece of the upcoming Darrington Press game Queen by Midnight is *chef's kiss*.

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