Thoughts by Bez

I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.
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Wibbell++ competition 2018: Announcement.

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
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After my recent solicitations for input, I'm announcing the 2018 Wibbell++ design contest.

I asked folk why they enter contests. So many folk are simply wanting feedback. It makes perfect sense to me. It can take the sting out of a loss, helping you improve for next time. It can also help with all your future projects as you might learn common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

I have been in a position to play hundreds (maybe thousands) of prototypes. I've been paid money for game designs and been in a position to determine whether someone is given a contract or not. In my role at ACG, I've helped decide whether to skip someone's game or double the usual advance payment.

My time, feedback and energy is something I can offer everyone.


Invent a game for the deck. Then write up the rules and send it via this google form.

If you do that before 1st August 2018, you are entered.

Games that have already been submitted are entered.

These people are ineligible: Me & my family, David Brain, Aaron Reading, Andrew Dennison, Dan Barker. They are of course welcome to submit games though. Everyone else is encouraged to enter whatever they conceive.


Your game does not need to be 'finished'. It could even be literally unplayed - an initial idea.

The rules you submit should allow me to play the game. If we're making words, make it clear whether it's in the style of Coupell, Wibbell or some other method. You can make it clear what details are to be decided, but provide some guesses. My convention is to provide uncertain information inside square brackets or between question marks.

The barrier for entry is fairly low.


My expectation is that everyone will get a good amount of feedback. More than usual. Also, you get the usual benefits of entering a contest - unique restrictions, a deadline to work towards,

Everyone will get a quick set of notes in response to their entry.

Top 50 (in case there's a ridiculous number) will be given an in-depth set of notes based purely on reading the rulesheet of their submision. Basically, I'll spend 1-2 hrs pondering the rules, maybe solo-testing, and writing a bunch of thoughts.

Top 12 get a 30-45 min video of their submission being playtested, along with feedback from me and a few other designers.

Best 5 will be have their names prominently written in a future edition of Wibbell++, as thanks for sharing such fab ideas. Rules will be rewritten and uploaded as a print-ready PDF.

The top entry will be developed, turned into the 8th 'core game' for 1st August 2019, and then have the rules physically included in a future edition of the deck.

In addition, the winner can have 12 monthly-ish hour-long skype conversation with me where we talk about their unrelated designs, KS/publishing ambitions, or whatever they would like advice with. I will help them design/develop their unrelated project(s) if they wish.


It's completely arbitrary based on my personal opinion. David Brain has agreed to help me judge.

Assuming a ridiculous number of entrants, I will read all the rules, consider them quickly, take more time to ponder the top 50, playtest the top 12, playtest the top 5 again, then choose a winner.

The eventual winner (and progress in each 'round') will be based on:

1 - being different from the first 7 Wibbell++ core games.

There are already games involving words, speed/dexterity, language and probability/maths. Something totally different would stand a good chance of winning. You can make another wordgame but avoid covering similar ground. If your game is a 2-player co-op game about helping each other make the longest words... then it should be significantly different from Coupell. Maybe make it a 3p co-op.

2 - using few other components

This year, strong preference will be given to games that don't need anything except what's included in the box.

3 - potential for creating a cool experience

This is the most subjective but the game - even if it's currently unrefined - should be something that could maybe facilitate a cool experience. Whether that's deep thought about the construction of a long word or clever phrase, or a memorable bit of chaos as you literally fling cards at each other.

I will bear in mind how the game might progress with a little more design/development.

As the games are accessible for 'free', they do not need to be great for a lot of people - it's OK if you make a game that 90% of people will hate, as long as it's something that I could imagine being loved by 10% of folk. It's OK if your game is only playable with exactly 5 people, as long as it's an awesome experience once you assemble those folk.

4 - originality

The bar for this is relatively low. I don't want anyone to just submit the rules to Gin Rummy (using letters instead of numbers). Unless, by virtue of 'converting' the game for the deck, you have turned it into an original creation.


If you don't already have a deck, I suggest checking out the Pnp deck.

You may want to check out my 'guide for designers'.

If you have any questions, ask below or contact me via geekmail or Twitter.


I will probably post all of these games onto the website.

I will continue working on at least one of the ideas and change rules around, in an attempt to better execute on your core concept.

You are free to do whatever you wish with your idea EXCEPT grant someone else the EXCLUSIVE rights to it. You could certainly take your idea, improve it with my feedback and resubmit it elsewhere or self-publish it.

Due to the nature of the contest, the best ideas may be difficult to use elsewhere. However, most ideas could probably be modified to work even better with a single-purpose deck. As an example, Grabbell would probably be better with 3 elements per card that are equally frequent. A unique deck for that would probably keep all 3 elements within the same theme. If you wanted the exclusive rights to use your idea in a completely different format like that, I'd support you and would avoid getting in your way.

There is no explicit financial reward. At this moment, the deck hasn't really made any profit yet and - due to the nature of a game system - apportioning the success of Wibbell++ between its games is quite hard. In the case of any entries that gain a following and seem to be strongly contributing to the success of the deck, I will be as generous as I can afford to be.


I will probably start looking at stuff in a serious manner in June/July - before the competition even closes.

Winners will be announced once I've had time to actually ponder/play them. I will send out feedback as and when it is written/recorded.

I hope that the judging will be done before Essen, but I reserve the right to take longer if needed.
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