18-Card Holidays Post-Challenge Recap

As of December 15th, 2023, we’ve closed submissions for our 18-card holiday challenge, and we’ve already started the judging process. Our judging team is reviewing each of the 143 submissions to figure out which ones get us in the holiday spirit. Each of the 3 judges brings their own viewpoint and criteria to the table, so this first round of reviews is for them to independently determine their top contenders. Once that’s done, they will convene together to make final decisions.

Per the challenge rules, finalists will be revealed on or before February 2nd, 2024. Because we have received so many submissions, we are unable to offer individual feedback to anyone. Typically in the past we have released a video showcasing the top 10 finalists, then a separate video revealing the winner. Ideally, we’re hoping to do the same thing for this challenge. No matter what, we’ll be announcing the winner on this blog as well as on the Button Shy Discord server, so stay tuned for updates. The Button Shy Discord can be found here, with channels reserved for general design discussion as well as specific challenges.

Speaking of which, we’re going to be hosting design challenges more regularly. Some of these will be small “mini-challenges” with a lower requirement to enter and a cash prize, while others will be new variations on our standard 18-card challenges. So if you enjoyed this experience (or missed out) we encourage you to make use of the Discord to meet other designers, get tips for future projects, and stay on top of all the upcoming events! 

For anyone curious about the holiday challenge specifically, here’s some behind-the-scenes data on the submissions we received.

Christmas was (perhaps expectedly) the leading holiday by far. However, we were pleased to see a wide variety of holidays covering many different cultures and traditions. We’ve learned a lot in researching some of these entries!

Player Counts Minimums

Player counts were a bit more variable, though we did receive a high number of 2-player-only games. It can be difficult to make (and test!) a large-group game with only 18 cards, so creating a solid game for two is an appealing way to make the most of the card count. With so much competition in this category we look forward to seeing how certain 2-player games will set themselves apart from the others, and if this continues to be the most common player count for future design challenges.

Lastly, more than 60% of the submissions came in during the last two days. Don’t worry: this is actually pretty common for these challenges. Putting together a full game, including the full print-and-play files and the pitch video, is a massive undertaking. As far as we’re concerned, getting anything submitted is a huge accomplishment. Plus the longer you wait, the more time you have to test out your submission.


Best of luck to everyone who entered, and Happy New Year to all!

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