Submission Guidelines

We are currently open for submissions.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Please fill out this form. That’s it!

IF WE LIKE YOUR PITCH: We’ll contact you and arrange to see the game in more detail through one of the following:

  • Via pre-recorded video of you and your friends playing the game
  • A prototype sent to us
  • In person at a convention (Gen Con 2017 signups here–make sure to manually set the time zone as EST!)
  • As a participant of our annual Design Day. We don’t actually hear pitches at Design Day, but we look at all the games other designers bring to it.

Guidelines and Requirements

  1. Carefully read our 12 Tenets of Game Design.
  2. We’re looking for tabletop games (not RPGs) that capture our imaginations.
  3. The player count must accommodate a minimum of 2 players (we’ll probably add a solo variant to take it down to 1) and an upper range of at least 5, 6, or greater. We’ll ignore submissions for 2-4 player games.
  4. We’re looking for event games–the featured main course at game night, not the appetizer or side salad–that play in 1-2 hours.
  5. We’re looking for unique games–your game must feature something that has not been done before.
  6. A player’s turn should be short and simple, and players should dictate the flow of play, not the game. If your game has a number of phases (either within each player’s turn or within each round), please don’t submit it to us.

Your Game Must Be:

  1. Fully Created, Not Just an Idea: Ideas are important but largely worthless. Actually taking a game from a concept to a fully-formed creation is a completely different matter–that’s what we’re looking for.
  2. Polished and Playtested: Part of our role as the publisher is to playtest and arrange for blind playtesting of your game beyond the scope of what you can do. But it’s still your responsibility to extensively playtest (and blind playtest) your game before sending it to us.
  3. Playable: The #1 mistake we see is that the prototypes we receive are unplayable, either due to the rules, the lack of reference cards, or other factors that could have been solved by blind playtesting. You get one chance to make a first impression, and if that involves an unplayable game, we’re not going to publish it.
  4. Thoughtfully Graphic Designed: Another part of our responsibility is to make the game look great in terms of art and design. However, submitting your game to us without any art or thoughtful design will make the playtesting process very difficult. Please use placeholder art that reflects how you view the world of your game, and be intentional with your graphic design for the final prototype–user interface matters. Do not commission final art, though–that’s our responsibility as a publisher.
  5. Rules: We need to be able to figure out how to play the game by reading the rules. Just as with any written work, confusing writing, poor English, and numerous typos will negatively affect our impression of your work. A Microsoft Word file is completely fine, but please try to insert examples and photographs/images throughout the rules.
  6. Flexibility: We may love your game, but there’s still a high chance that we’ll have some changes we want to make it better and make it more marketable. Please be clear with us up front if there are certain changes you will never consider. If you won’t consider any changes, you’re not a good fit for us.
  7. Unique: We’re looking for unique themes and mechanisms–please, no pirates, zombies, Cthulu, or trains.
  8. Hooks: Your game should have one or more hooks.

Why Would You Want Us to Publish Your Game?

  • We’re small. Not that big is bad. If you’re able to get the attention of a major publisher who wants an initial print run of 30,000 copies of your game, by all means, go for it. But if you want a small, savvy, personal company to get your game out there to the world, we think you’ll enjoy working with us.
  • We’re passionate. We’re not trying to pump out games that we barely know or care about. Rather, we focus a ton of time, energy, and money on games we truly love, the games that we’re happy to share with the world as if they are our own. If you want that type of passion and drive at the helm of your game, you’re at the right place.
  • We love games. We truly love tabletop games. Hopefully you will find that to be the case for any publisher, but it’s worth mentioning that our love of games is why we do this. We’re not in it for the money–we’re here to connect thousands of people with memorable, fun gaming experiences. If that’s what drives you too, we can build amazing things together.
  • We’re a partner, not an employer. We want to make the best version of your game. That means collaborating with you to make sure we stay true to your vision while enhancing and elevating various aspects of the game. We will ask for your opinions, thoughts, and permission throughout the process.
  • We’ll be honest with you. If you’re deciding between publishing the game yourself via Kickstarter or submitting it to publishers like Stonemaier, please consider the pros and cons of each. If you self-publish, you can build a business, you have full creative control, and you’ll make more money if the game is successful…but it will involve a lot more work. If you just want to design games and do nothing else, submitting to a publisher may be a better fit for you.

If you’re just getting started on the game design process, please use these resources.

111 Comments on “Submission Guidelines

  1. You said you wanted to publish one of each type of game, does that mean if i have a game that uses a similar mechanic (worker placement for example. Even if its not any thing like viticulture) you wont publish it.

    1. Keegan: Sorry if this page led you to think we’re that strict! :) No, we’re open to any type of game, and I love worker placement games. There are certain things listed on this page that will certainly increase your chances of catching our attention, but anything goes. Design your game, playtest the heck out of it, then film a video of people playing it and send the video to us. Thanks!

  2. Would you be interested in publishing a dexterity risk/reward strategy game that brings dexterity to a backgammon type of game play with opening moves, penalties and an end game? It’s best played with 4 players/teams and is suited for 2 player/teams as well?

  3. Jamey I have invented a unique Bingo game that is played as your watching a live Baseball, Football, Basketball or Softball game. I am having a tough time to find publishers. Are there publishers that specialize in bingo type games? I have a working prototype but I am sure an experienced publisher could improve the game. Any advice for a rookie inventor? Thanks

  4. Hi Jamey, thanks for this detailed and exciting blog! I’ve created a board game with about 60 rounds of play testing at this point. I’m debating going down the self publishing route or partnering with someone. I like the idea of partnering with a company like yours and would really love to have the first launch be a kickstarter. My game is a gateway game for 2-6 people, but best played with 2-4. Before going too far down the path of making a video etc I was wondering if you have any example parameters of how you typically structure deals like this, of course knowing that each situation is unique. Please let me know, thanks!

    Jyoti Agarwal
    Explorador Games

  5. Jyoti: Thanks for your question, and congrats on designing and playtesting a game. Stonemaier doesn’t partner with people in the way that I think you’re thinking–rather, designers can submit games to us, and if we really love them, we’ll sign the rights to them and publish them, paying the designer a royalty % based on revenue. If you’d like to be more than just a designer, that’s great too–it’s not an arrangement we work with. In that case, you can just run the Kickstarter and essential start a business around publishing the game. Good luck!

  6. Thanks Jamey! Appreciate the quick response. I’m not yet ready to sell my baby so will be going down the ks routine on my own. Bought your book and am already loving it! Appreciate what you do!

  7. my game takes magic and monopoly and elements from many games in a modular form so you can have a complacated or simple game game play on simple can range from an hour to 3 and as you add elements it adds to the game play whean useing the full game you progres thrue simaler to d&d

  8. Jamey,
    I have a board game that already has the artwork done. I just received it Tuesday. It turned out beautifully, but not sure where to go from here. Can I submit the game to for review?
    It’s a fast paced family board game where you capture players, trade places, and race to get your four pieces home and hope the rolls of you other players don’t cause you to become another player. I know you are busy and really appreciate some guidance. My family and friends have been playing this game since 2004 and I put artwork to it this year. No one has seen the game other family and friends.
    Best regards,

  9. Bill: Thanks for your question. You’re welcome to follow the submission guidelines outlined above, but I should say up front that the art is irrelevant. The vast majority of publishers will use their creative team to determine the best visuals for the game and seek out artists and graphic designers who can maximize that vision.

    Also, it’s a problem that the game has only been seen by family and friends. You need to get blunt, honest feedback from complete strangers before you pitch it to publishers.

  10. Jamey,
    I’ve had over a hundred people play over the years. What I meant was no game company has seen it. I put artwork on it for my family, the artwork can be changed. I was wondering if this game might fit your criteria for submission. I will submit if it does.

  11. Hi Jamey. Do you accept submissions for children board games? I and my business partner have developed a fun, colorful and different board game. I am a mechanical, aerospace and computer engineer and my partner is a fifth grade teacher. Both boys and girls love it – its for 2 – 6 players. It can be a math learing game – but it does not have to be – it can be played just for fun also. The packaging is unique and colorful and would catch the eye of a child as well as an adult shopping for a gift. The game is a theme – so if a child has a love for that theme – as soon as he sees the packaging he/she will want it. It can be played buy older children alone or with help from a mom, dad, sister brother etc. The game is fast paced and should take about 1/2 hour to play. There always is one winner – but getting the points to win is very unique – and absolutely understandable for children 5 and up. We have tested the game on many children – male, female ages 5 – 12 – they all love it. This game goes back to basics like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders – models that we based this game on. No computers, fancy rules, timers, clocks or anything like that. Just a good old fashioned childrens game.
    .

    1. Lisa and Alexa: Thanks for asking about this! While it doesn’t sound like a good fit for Stonemaier, I think it might have potential at a company called HABA. One word of caution, though: I wouldn’t recommend comparing it to Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. Those games don’t involve interesting choices (or any choices at all), and it’s crucially important for any modern game to have interesting choices, even kids games. Good luck!

  12. My game is Mafia based that is almost a mash up of risk and monopoly. It is enjoyable to play and it involves both luck and strategy, although a big part of the game is rounds and action fulfillment. Would you be interested in it?

  13. Hi
    I just bought a ticket to pitch my prototype to your company at gencon. I’m very excited to show it to you as i think that my game mechanics are quite innovative (never saw it in any games as of now). Hope it will appeal to you, if not, at least it will be quite an experience for me.
    2-6 players, did countless of playtest and blind playtest. I will update the prototype by then to be as clean as possible.
    See you there :)

  14. Hello Jamey,

    I created a card game a couple years ago and life happens and it didn’t move anywhere. We’ve play tested it about 100 times and made adjustments along the way. I hear people I know still play it all the time to this day.

    It’s a strategic card game with some luck involved that plays with 2-8 players and is more of a card game for a game purist or strategist. You need to be thinking moves ahead and strategize. No two games are ever alike. We typically play 8 people and I have a fully working prototype that I need to tighten up the rules on just slightly.

    We even play tested this in the classroom with high school kids and they liked it. We’ve determined this game could fit with family and friends, the classroom, and even for corporate or team building events. With 8 players, our typical game play runs around 40 minutes.

    I’m trying to motivate myself to pull it off the shelf and revive it. Found your site and thought I’d see if this is something that might be a potential fit for Stonemaier. If so, I can proceed to your next step sonyou can see how the game is played.

    I will add that a group out of Chicago did evaluate the game two years or so ago for mass market appeal. Their recommendation came back not to proceed because they did not feel it had mass market appeal (at least not without a gimmick center piece – uno attack was an example given). They agreed it was a specialty game for more of a game purist and might be one I could market myself. If sales were solid over a period of time, then it might be considered mass market material down the road with the proven sales.

    I’d love to see it get to market. Hopefully this write up will give you an idea if you think this would be a good fit for you. Thanks for taking the time to read through my message

    Steven
    Coatesville, Indiana

    1. Hi Steven, thanks for your question. Sure, you’re welcome to submit the game to us, though please keep in mind that our core requirement is that it’s a game that captures one’s imagination. It’s pretty tough to do that with a light card game. :)

  15. I noticed that the guidelines require a game to not have phases. Are these phases something like what Roads and Boats has, or most Splotter games actually?

    Richard Ham recently did a runthrough on my design: Ibyron: Island of Discovery, and I was wondering if that game has phases (wilderness,village) as what you do not want? So, if you mean phases, does that equate to a game that has multiple rounds? e.g. every player takes a turn in order, like Agricola, Le Havre, actually, most worker placement games? I think your current line has a few like that so I was wondering of a clearer definition if you have one.

    1. Scott: Thanks for sharing your question here. What I mean by “phases” is, for example, a game that has this kind of phase checklist each round, where all players get the chance to do each of these things during the corresponding phase:

      1. Income
      2. Farming
      3. Building
      4. Attack
      5. Sundown
      etc…

      I greatly prefer games where I take a turn, then someone else takes a turn, then someone else, and so on until the game is over. I’m also okay with games where players take sequential turns until the round ends, then there might be some upkeep (retrieve workers, etc) before the next round begins.

      It’s all about the flow of the game.

  16. That does help me understand the differences. Thanks for the quick reply. Good luck on Charterstone. Break some records!

  17. Hi Jamey! How important is the “5 or 6” upper limit guideline? I am working on a family game that is 2-4 players that I think plays best at no more than 4(in terms of learning the game) but could easily go up to 5 and maybe 6 as soon as players are use to the game(I was thinking of adding in the extra players in expansions of some kind).

  18. Fair enough! Would you ever look at a game that was 2-4 players if it could be reworked to fit 5? It has been balanced and playtested for 4 and it would be significant work to scale it up to 5. But of course if there was interest it would be a worthwhile endeavour. You get a ton of submissions so its probably a no to this question but you guys are my first choice of who I would pitch my game to so I thought I should ask!

    1. Carl: We’re looking for games submitted to us that already work with 5 or 6 players. I know how much time and effort it takes to playtest a game, and we would spend a fair amount of time developing a game after we receive it. But we’re not going to develop a game just so it fits our guidelines–that’s your job. :) I appreciate that we’re your first choice, and if you believe the game is best at 2-4 players, hopefully there are some other publishers on your list who don’t care as much about player count as we do. :)

  19. Hi Jamey. Forgive me if you have touched on this elsewhere. I have read the 12 Tenents and am also aware you are not looking at more games until 2017. I am in the early play testing phase of one of my games, so it will be some time before it is ready. My question is regarding art. Knowing that a) you or another publisher will probably change it along with b) it is preferred to have presentable art/graphic design for a submitted prototype, are you ok with copyright free clip art as place holder? Thank you,
    Abe

    1. Abe: That’s a good question. I kind of talk about it on this page, but I added a sentence to it. Here’s the pasted paragraph, which is now found in full above on this page:

      “Thoughtfully Graphic Designed: Another part of our responsibility is to make the game look great in terms of art and design. However, submitting your game to us without any art or thoughtful design will make the playtesting process very difficult. Please use placeholder art that reflects how you view the world of your game, and be intentional with your graphic design for the final prototype–user interface matters. Do not commission final art, though–that’s our responsibility as a publisher.”

      1. Thanks, Jamey! I did see that paragraph initially, but wasn’t quite sure how to best make plans for the art portion of the game (which is important to the theme). I appreciate your prompt reply and the added sentence for clarification.

  20. Hi Jamey –

    Thank you for the wonderful site and resources – much appreciated for someone stepping into the industry.

    Quick question about Tenant #6 and blind print and play play-testing. What if print and play isn’t an option? I’m working on a game with some fundamental 3 dimensional mechanics that would be very difficult (though certainly not impossible) for someone to easily replicate at home. I have access to other play groups where I could pass my game along to people there whom I don’t know. I assume the spirit of your point really is just get lots of blind play-tests in wherever you can find them?

    Mike

  21. Hello Jamey.. Thanks again for this great information! I am a new inspiring board game designer and I have created a great 18 and up, 2-6 players relationship board game that takes you on a rollercoaster ride that relationships go thur in reality. So far i have designed the board game twice and have many play test rounds on it with a lot of great feedback. Now im will like to know what is my next step to getting my game out to the public? And when submitting my game will I have to submit a prototype as well?

    1. Shantell: Thanks for your questions. They’re pretty big questions! You may want to look through this page on board game development–there are some tips for what you’re looking for.

      https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/develop-board-game-projects/

      I just want to be honest with you and say up front that theme is really important for our games, and while it sounds like you’ve picked a theme you’re passionate about, it’s just not one that interests me for a game. Fortunately there are lots of publishers out there, so hopefully you find one that’s a great fit!

  22. What are your thoughts on tech supporting board games? both personally as a gamer, and in terms of your company’s design ethos. I appreciate that this isn’t obviously a natural fit for you and I have my own significant reservations, but the ability to cut analysis paralysis or self manage dwindling resource has some appeal. This could be a significant contribution to the game, perhaps an app that adds atmosphere (to my mind, Mansions of Madness is could be more ambitious) but could also in the most simple sense – e.g. a game that asks you to use a timer on your phone.
    Part of my idea is dabbling with oxygen use, but I’m terrible at remembering to move a turn marker in a game so I’m not a fan of self-managing diminishing resources. That said I’m still interested in it, as a threat and to encourage cooperation (and potential heroic saves!). It’s not key to game – I only thought of the game idea today so nothing is really :) but I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

    1. Helen: Thanks for your question. I have a few different thoughts:

      1. I love innovation in games, and apps are a neat way to innovate. Mansions of Madness does this brilliantly, especially in streamlining an elaborate setup process that made it hard to play the original game.

      2. As a gamer, my personal taste is that it’s pretty rare that I want a screen anywhere near the table. In my group, we don’t look at our phones, there’s no TV on in the background, etc–we’re completely unplugged and focused on each other and the game. I really like that.

      3. As a publisher, I’ve never seen an app delivered by a developer on time, or even remotely on schedule. This hasn’t impacted us because none of our games have ever been dependent on apps, but I would be really hesitant to make an app for that reason.

  23. thanks for the quick response. I think I agree with you on all counts. And I think there’s probably always a smarter and more appealing way to do something. And technical of course doesn’t mean easy.
    Immediately after posting this I started scribbling ideas about bubble tokens :)

  24. Btw I just wanted to commend you on your design. I adore Scythe and it’s really opened my eyes to the possibilities of smarter, more economic structure. I love games like terra mystic but I drive my meta mad when my brain freezes trying to figure out a mechanic. Scythe blew my mind, but for the better. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Helen! That means a lot to me. I love Terra Mystica, and as an experience player of it, I never have to look at their action-selection tiles, but I’m always looking for ways to integrate a player’s available choices seamlessly into the game’s interface rather than giving them a checklist of things they can do. Doing so ends up inspiring what I hope are interesting systems, like the player mats in Scythe.

  25. It’s oddly liberating to have less choice in terms of actions but no less beautiful complexity in strategy. Plus I enjoyed the emphasis away from warring. So refreshing!
    I’m trying to figure out a mechanic based on staying calm. The idea is that if your stress levels are too high it may change command structure (first player), limit your options (concentration actions) expending extra oxygen and/or force poor decisions with ramifications such as making you run off wildly into unexplored dangerous territory. It’s just tricky figuring out how to balance calming down with just being boring :)

    1. “A mechanism based on staying calm.” That’s really interesting, especially in regards to the various game states it impacts. I like the idea that as you get less calm, you have less control over your decisions!

  26. A buddy and I are in the prototyping phase of designing a magic battle game. It is a grid like board currently with moving pieces that have a free range mobility. When you land on a tile, you draw a card of that color. The various colors have different abilities. There are four different buffing/utility spell colors, four attack colors, healing, and curse colors. The battling mechanic is simple, with mechanics in range, damage, and special effects.

    So this leads me to my questions.

    1) For your company, and for others in general, how well developed would you like the aesthetics? I mean this in terms of the pieces (just simple movement pieces) and the quality of board and cards. I know that you have mentioned that it needs to be easily play tested etc. can you give me a goal idea?

    2) What are your opinions on games that are a little confusing as to where to put your strategy in? This game has eight different colors and you have to move around the board to get to different areas with certain colors being closer to certain starting points. At first our game is a little confusing as to where you should go until a few times through.

    3) Should we go simpler or more complex? Our game right now has potential to slide either way as towards an intense strategy game or towards a simpler one. Your feedback in this regard would be great.

    4) What are your overall thoughts on the present information about our game?

  27. Jon: Thanks for your questions. I’ll do my best to answer them.

    1. This is answered in #3 on the above page: “Thoughtfully Graphic Designed: Another part of our responsibility is to make the game look great in terms of art and design. However, submitting your game to us without any art or thoughtful design will make the playtesting process very difficult. Please use placeholder art that reflects how you view the world of your game, and be intentional with your graphic design for the final prototype–user interface matters. Do not commission final art, though–that’s our responsibility as a publisher.”

    2. Multiple paths to victory is good, but players should have clarity as to how to score and progress in the game.

    3. Simple vs. complex: Some great games are simple (streamlined), and other great games are complex. There is no right answer. I talk about the important things in the second of this page about the 12 Tenets of Game Design: https://stonemaiergames.com/about/mission-statement/

    4. I’m not drawn to most games where I’m walking around fighting stuff, but many gamers are. If it’s something you enjoy designing, playing, and teaching, I’m sure you can find some publishers who like that kind of game to submit your game to.

    I’d also recommend reading the following article. It sounds like you’re a little past the idea phase, but it’s really hard for people to speak to the merits of the game when we only known a few core ideas. The best feedback you’re going to get is from playtesters, as they’re fully informed about what the game is, and the second best way you can learn how to improve the game is to play a lot of great published games while wearing your designer hat.

    https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-204-your-idea-is-brilliant-your-idea-is-worthless/

  28. Just to clarify, I have read all the information.

    My partner and I are in the phase you described in the video as the protype phase. The first one to specify.

  29. I have been putting significant time into backtracking and revising, is it okay to have the game playable for more than 6 players? What I mean is is it okay for your submission guidelines in the future to allow my game to be 2-8 players?

  30. Jamey, do you have an estimate for how long this submission window will be open? Apologies if I missed an estimate, or even deadline, among the detailed guidelines and interesting discussion.

    It may well be that the window closes when enough potentially suitable games have been submitted through it, rather than on a specific date.

    All the best for 2017 to you, Morten, Alan, and the SMG community!

    1. Andrew: Good question, though I’m not really sure. If we get an influx of submissions we need to sort through (or if we get several great submissions we need to delve deeper into), we might close submissions until we catch up. But I think we’ll be fine for a few months.

  31. Good afternoon Jamey. I have a racing game that also has an educational element for children in Key stages 1 and 2. It is playable by 2-6 players from age 5 upwards, and can also be played by adults and families. It is a very simple-to-follow game that takes on average 30-60 minutes to complete. It has been play-tested by my family, and other people outside the family and feedback has generally been good.

    Based on this, does this have the potential of being a decent fit on what you are looking for? And if so, what would you like me to do next?

    1. Keiron: Thanks for asking. While it sounds a little light for what we’re looking for, it’s possible we might like it, and it meets our core specs (I’m assuming you’ve read my 12 tenets of design, as linked on this page). The next step is to read the instructions at the top of this page and follow them.

  32. Hi, Jamey
    We have a “adult party game” thats been worked on and play tested for about 2 years. we have looked at self publishing but haven’t had a lot of luck getting the game out there. Is there a chance you would be interested in a game like this? it is a simple game that take about 30 to 60 mins to play and can be 2 – 6 players. the website has the manual and all the cards on it.
    thank you,
    Craig Smith

    1. I understand, thank you very much for feedback! This has been a common theme among the publishers we’re spoken with, we also just had some great feedback from the Cardboard Edison contest and have been working on improving the scoring and removing some of the ‘luck’ element of the game. I’ve been working on some games that are very different from our first game (CrimeTime) for a while, so I feel like I’m approaching it with fresh ideas!

      Thank you again
      Craig Smith

  33. Good afternoon Jamey,

    I am still in the play testing phase, so no need for a speedy reply, but would you be willing to work with someone from the UK? I am a big fan of Scythe, which I thought was brilliantly put together, Specifically the art work and I am very impressed with your guides and commitment to supporting the gaming community, which is one of the main reasons I would like to pitch to Stonemaier games. My only concern is whether the distance apart would create logistic issues.

    Kind regards

    Lee

  34. I’ve created a board game based on Greek Mythology. It’s a quest with question cards, a board and playing pieces as well as a tracking sheet and item tokens. Players work cooperatively. It’s been tried-and-tested many times with adults and teen students who provided critical (and often brutal) feedback. It’s been tweaked and revised many times, and the most recent groups of testers (facilitated by both myself and when I was not present) said they’d love to buy it (even though that wasn’t my initial aim in creating it). Originally it was created as an intro / review to Greek mythology for students, but a wide range of people have now played it.
    Sounds like it might be of interest?

  35. Hello Jamey,
    I am totally new at this boardgame process! I have designed and in the process of testing my prototype my question is: Will you accept a Christian boardgame? My game is for 2 or more players. Please advise. By the way, I enjoyed reading the questions and your responses. Thank you for taking the time to address so many questions and concerns.

    1. Rebecca: Thanks for your question. Could you please click through the survey listed at the top of this page? It asks questions that show our requirements (a game being non-Christian is not a requirement).

  36. Good afternoon Jamey,

    I hope you are well.

    I have started play testing my game, which has gone amazingly well. I have a few artist friends who can create some place holder art for me, so that I can submit a sell sheet and rule book that look half professional. I have a few questions though, which are as follows:

    – Do you require a fully completed prototype? I currently have everything printed on paper and stuck to card, with proxy pieces to represent 3D units, so am concerned that this would not be up to required standard.
    – When I submit, is it worth while attaching a word document to outline where I meet your criteria? I am concerned that I meet the criteria strongly in most areas and loosely in a few others.

    I genuinely feel, based on the games you have published, that you will love the theme and the mechanics of the game I am designing, but I am concerned that I do not completely meet all your criteria and I was not sure on how strict you are as part of the initial purging process.

    I look forward to your response.

    Kind regards

    Lee

    1. Lee: Thanks for your questions and for considering Stonemaier as a publisher. If we request a prototype from you, it simply needs to be functional, not professional.

      As for the Word doc, the first phase of submission is just the form at the top of this page–it’s after that when we’ll request more information if we’re interested.

      All of the criteria on the form are very important to us, but the most important part is the question at the end where you have a few sentences to pitch the game to us.

      1. Thank you Jamey for the quick response.

        Based on your feedback, It will take a few months to get the placeholder art designed, but you should expect to see a submission for consideration on completion.

        I look forward to future correspondence with yourself and Stonemaier Games.

        Kind regards

        Lee

  37. So you’ll really ignore a game if it only plays 2-4? That’s basically the only thing barring me from submitting.

    1. That’s correct–as a publisher, a Stonemaier game needs to play up to at least 5 players, ideally 6. Fortunately, there are lots of companies that don’t mind if a game only plays with 4.

      1. But not all of them have as good of a business model. I liked the section you put in about steering candidates what route would be the best way for them, even if it doesn’t benefit you. As a designer, I’m scared to put my baby in anyone’s hands that I don’t trust BEFORE I push that submit button.

          1. It’s a bit hard to compare it to other games, but Catan comes to mind (could be the fact that I use Catan pieces in my prototype). Basically, it’s a rule-discovering naval game where players must complete a variation of one of three paths to earn victory points. The three paths are piracy, completing contracts, and selling resources on other islands. When a player completes one of these things, they draw from a bag of victory points.

            But with a deck players draw from each turn, and tiles that could be anything, the game is quite treacherous. I often say it’s a game as brutal as the sea itself.

    1. Cool! It sounds along the lines of Black Fleet, Merchants and Marauders, Seafall, and North Wind, with a little bit of Oracle of Delphi and Archipelago mixed in. And, of course, the Explorers and Pirates expansion to Catan. :)

      I don’t think TMG has a naval game yet. It could work for Greater Than Games or Stronghold. I think Renegade is doing great work, as is Roxley.

  38. Hi Jamey,

    I noticed that you are very strict on the requirement for a game to be able to be played two player. What is the reasoning behind this?

    My situation is the following and I am wondering whether or not it would be a good idea to develop a two player variant of Star Civilizations before approaching a publisher with it.

    Star Civilizations (you won’t find it on BGG yet except as a WIP post I haven’t updated in ages) is a big box game which takes 2h to play. I’ve run maybe 15 to 20 play tests, including a number of semi-blind tests (I gave an overview of the rules, left the rule book and was absent for the game, which was filmed) and am still refining a few things before I seriously consider publication. It plays 3-6 players and involves some direct conflict (think Twilight Imperium 3 levels of conflict).

    I’m concerned that the player count may turn off potential publishers.

    Thanks in advance for any advice :-).

    -Stephen

    1. Stephen: Our focus is on games that couples can enjoy together or with larger groups, hence the requirement that the game can be played with only 2 players (and for most games, we’ll add a 1-player Automa variant). This requirement is just part of the Stonemaier brand, not a reflection on the industry as a whole–there are plenty of great companies who don’t have that limit, so if you’re happy with your game as a 3-6 player game, I think you’re totally fine to submit it to those companies. :)

      1. Thanks for the answer Jamey. I definitely understand the need to focus your brand (though when I think about games the size and length of Scythe or Viticulture I think “gaming group”, not “play with wifey”).

        I have enjoyed reading over your blog, it’s been quite informative. As an unpublished designer one of the things I have been focusing on is trying to keep my game within the realms of publishability – keeping component costs down and making Star Civilizations more attractive to potential publishers without sacrificing my vision for the game.

        Thanks again for your time and congratulations on Scythe becoming such a huge hit.

        1. Stephen: That’s very wise of you to try to keep component costs down. Though, if I may say this, something that gets me really excited about a game (as a publisher and/or as a gamer) is a unique, special, or stand-out component. So that’s something to keep in mind too. :)

          1. Interesting. I got a board game recently that had acrylic cubes instead of wooden ones (I’m guessing that’s not what you’re meaning though).

            Minis are all the rage on Kickstarter and I understand their appeal (though they’re by no means the only centrepiece components possible). Star Civ can be most closely compared to TI3 in terms of components. It would be possible to use minis to represent these, or alternatively have a single injection-moulded sheet of minis ala risk/TI (reviewers and gamers seem to be moving away from these though).

            The main things running through my brain at the moment is how to balance the need for roughly 60 (acrylic) cubes per player (I could cut this to a minimum of around 35 per player but that would cause players to have to do a lot more manual accounting), 30-40 plastic figures (spaceships/starports etc) per player, five decks of cards and a bunch of cardboard components. I can lower the plastics used and even go with cardboard tokens for the bulk of the ships but plastic feels better.

            The spaceships are needed to give the “epic space fleet” feel. The cubes are intertwined fairly deeply into the game economics.

            One thing I’ve thought is that the base game would be 3-4 players with a 5-6 player expansion. That would cut 50% of the plastic component needs.

            I know that these are all publishing questions but given I’m trying to sell a big box game with a big box price tag to a publisher, I think I should be able to talk through those issues in a way which shows I’ve at least thought them all through in advance.

            I have actually been thinking that maybe the best way to approach all of this from a publishing point of view (assuming I was a publisher, loved the game and had decided to publish) would be to croud fund and start with a single injection moulded sheet of spaceships with maybe one unique mini and minify the ships one at a time as stretch goals were unlocked. As I understand it the cost of creating separate moulds is far higher than creating a single mould. I could also start with 8mm cubes (though I think these feel terrible in the hand) and move up to 10mm cubes as a stretch goal.

            Anyway, your thoughts are appreciated :).

  39. Stephen: Thanks for sharing! Again, I think it’s great that you’re considering all of these factors up front. The cubes are a minimal cost difference, but miniature moulds can be quite expensive. So I like the strategy you outlined of starting with one mould and expanding from there. You could also find a company with an established world in space and have your game set in that world, as they may already have some moulds that can be used (like Xia and Tau Ceti).

    You might be at a good place to share these thoughts on one of the Tabletop Kickstarter groups on Facebook. You’ll get some great (albeit blunt!) feedback there.

    1. Stephen: feel free to contact me on BGG. My username is meowcows. It’d be great to get to know someone going through the same process of game design. We could bounce ideas off each other. It seems we are in a very similar situation. I’d love to discuss it more with you.

      Jamey: I’m trying to figure out what the best route for me is: KS or finding a publisher. What tips can you give a fledgling game designer in this predicament?

        1. Wow! That is a veritable treasure trove of information. Thanks!

          And I look forward to hearing from you, Stephen!

  40. Jamey: is there someone you know or a place I can find info on people that are in the business but are willing to look over games for feedback? I’ve gotten feedback from so many people but much like a medical diagnosis, I’d prefer to have a professional opinion.

      1. I mean, obviously I’d be happier if someone just looked at my game for love of the game, but I guess I’m not opposed to paying.

        1. Based on that, I’d recommend simply sharing the game on various Facebook groups throughout the process. You’ll get a variety of opinions, including some from experienced designers. If you actually want an experienced designer/developer to play the game and offer you detailed feedback, that’s a service that most will charge for.

  41. Jamey: Your submission form asks “Does your game present players with a thematic, visually appealing way of choosing what they do on their turn? Answer “no” if each players selects from an action checklist.”

    I’m trying to figure out exactly what this means. Can I assume if Pandemic didn’t exist and was submitted to you that you wouldn’t be interested? The actions are all very visually and thematically driven however you do essentially choose from an action list.

    1. Janice: Hopefully if Matt Leacock got a rejection from Stonemaier for Pandemic, he would have submitted to other publishers so it would still exist. But yes, I don’t want to look at a checklist when I play games, and I wouldn’t publish a game with that mechanism. Imagine Viticulture where instead of 12 different actions you had a checklist of 12 choices. They both have thematic labels, but one is significantly more user friendly than the other.

      1. Based on your submission guidelines I would have expected to get a rejection letter if I tried to submit pandemic. It actually doesn’t nail all of the points of the Stonemaier submission guidelines.

        I think pandemic could have worked for the Stonemaier brand if it had some changes.

        Here are some ideas:
        Replace the checklist with worker placement. Each player gets four actions per round, which are represented by tokens. You place a token on each space you wish to use. Each space has a maximum number of tokens it would accepts per round. Only 1 flying action might be available per round (and it might take two tokens). Lots of driving actions are available each round.

        If each of the actions were limited in this way, the team would need to plan their moves together in advance and it would introduce a “push your luck” element (the first player could fly to clean up a potential outbreak in Paris or we could save the flight for the last player who is stranded in the middle of Africa with no research stations nearby.

        It would make the game more complex and each of the decisions harder but it would make for a game more aligned with the stonemaier brand.

        I really like pandemic. It had a lot going for it but the action list is not my favorite mechanic. In Star Civilizations I give each player a hand of orders. Of that hand, 3 or 4 are played each round. Players cannot double up on an order which makes not only the orders important, but the order of execution important. I feel that this is a far more interesting mechanism than simply giving players a list of things they can do.

        Puerto Rico tackles the problem differently. The roles ensure everybody is always engaged but you can’t always get what you want and your opponents can mess with your plans or force you into helping them.

        Pandemic is a huge success and there is good reasosn for that. The turn actions though are one of its weakest design points (and are the hardest part of the game to teach).

        1. Stephen: Well done! That’s the type of thing I would have encouraged Leacock to do if he had submitted Pandemic to us. Obviously this is largely a matter of subjective personal taste on my part, though–I can’t argue with Pandemic’s success. :)

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