...And The 2016 Wallet Game Design Contest Winners Are

Back in February, we announced a little contest asking board game designers for their best Wallet Game.  While we expected to receive about 20-30 entries, we were floored to receive 73 different games from designers around the US and the world. In May, we whittled down those pitches to 15 Finalists. You can read more about those finalists here.  We have spent the last few weeks playing through the finalists and are ready to announce them here.

We would first like to thank all the judges that took time out of their lives to play the finalists and help us determine the winners. We couldn’t have done it without them.

Josh Edwards

Benjamin Begeal

Jason Tagmire

Nicole Kline

Todd Walsh

Mike Mullins

George Tagmire

Jason Burdick

Anthony Amato

Marty Cobb

And now onto the winners: 

First Place Winner

Circle the Wagons

Danny Devine & Steven Aramini & Paul Kluka


Circle the Wagons quickly rose to the top in the plays it received while judging. While the initial skip drafting may not make sense, it becomes evident during scoring, which continues into your strategy on future plays.  We see a lot of replayability in Circle the Wagons as every card has multiple options.

Here are some comments from the design team:

Circle the Wagons was a blast to put together! Luckily, we (Steven, Danny, Paul) all have the good fortune of working near each other, so we often get together during lunchtime to play games and test out new prototypes. When we heard about the Button Shy contest, we immediately started brainstorming ideas.

Being limited to just 18 cards, we were challenged with trying to make a game that had both replayability and tough decisions. By giving each card a unique scoring condition and randomly using three of these conditions per game, we found that every game brought new twists. We also gave each card 4 territories, so there were a lot more options when it came to drafting and building up your boomtown. Both Danny and Steven went to Protospiel San Jose and had several opportunities to test the game, which really helped in its development.

We are so excited to have Circle the Wagons be chosen as the Button Shy Wallet Game Design Contest winner! There were so many great looking games and amazing designers that entered, so it is a real honor. Many thanks to Button Shy Games for putting on the contest. We hope everyone enjoys the game!


Runner Up

Find Your Seats

Mitchell Shipman


Find Your Seats is a quick drafting and placement game for 2-4 players where orientation and timing matter.  Judges found many interesting options and plays all the way to the last card played.  The many interactions between the dinner guests mean that yours always paying attention and on your guard for what may happen and how you can react.

Here are some comments from Mitchell:

My inspiration for the game came from eating meals with various groups of people.  I’ve always considered myself relatively awkward in social situations and, as a result, I find myself observing conversations and participating infrequently – especially when I was with acquaintances more so than when I was friends or family.  These experiences stuck with me and resulted in fuel for the game’s design.

I enjoyed the design space the contest afforded.  Most of my initial design ideas start within the constructs of a Eurogame, so it was refreshing and challenging to create
something that fit the requirements of the contest and still allowed for engaging decisions to be made.  I also enjoyed being able to apply a theme that has been, to my knowledge, rarely used.

I’m happy and honored to have placed in the competition, and I look forward to what’s to come!

Runner Up

Nitro Drift

Rob Cramer


Rob designed an exciting racing game for 2-4 players that takes up your whole table.  Judges really found strategy in using the movement cards to avoid obstacles while still blocking out opponents.  The method for both choosing, using and replacing the movement cards added depth to the game for multiple plays.

Here are some comments from Rob about Nitro Drift:

Nitro Drift started out as a fun experiment of distilling the experience of a larger game using only 18 cards, but soon turned into something I'm very proud of! To everyone who played the game, thank you for the time you spent both drifting and crashing. I'm so excited for Nitro Drift's future and I hope to share it with many more people along the way!

We also wanted to share some news and comments from Mr. Button Shy himself, Jason Tagmire (EDIT: As you can see this introduction was written by Ben and not me. - Jason):

This contest exceeded all of my expectations. The sheer number of entries, mixed with the quality of designs and the great local and national support we received from our team of judges. It was just an awesome experience all around.

I approached this from two sides, as 1) a judge and 2) a publisher. I kept both of my roles separate because we were picking the best game, not the best Button Shy game, but we had the side potential prize of a publishing contract for any of the designs. In most cases, my publishing eye aligned with my judging eye (and the other judges eyes too, which is a good thing!), but I can point to at least one non-finalist that will be coming out from Button Shy in the near future. It's a secret though as it'll be part of an upcoming Board Game of the Month Club package.

Keep an eye out for that and potentially many more. In fact, now would be a great time to announce that we will be publishing the three winners!

Expect Circle The Wagons, Find Your Seats and Turbo Drift (formerly known as Nitro Drift) to be part of our early 2017 Wallet Game Lineup. This isn't a prize for the designers, it's a prize for us and you. These games are excellent.

Let's do this again next year? :)

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