The 18 Card Challenge - Design an 18 card legacy game

It's been 3 months, yet somehow March alone felt like forever.

December was a hard month for us. The loss of our video guys Steve mixed with the holidays and 3 months of straight contests led to some serious downtime on our side. In those months we've been working hard on the development and release of some of the games in the previous challenges, but we've seen more and more requests to bring the challenges back.

So, we present the all new 18 card challenge.

What's different? Well, first of all we're giving you all 60 days to complete your designs, instead of 30. This will give everyone some breathing room, some testing time, and allow us enough time to get the games judged properly. Not that they weren't before but whew... weeks would fly by.

And the video will be a bit different. Still weekly, starting now. Just a little more candid. A little less produced. Essentially it's just more doable. With a limited staff, we want the content to get out there. So expect a little less polish.

Let's get into the challenge!

APRIL/MAY CHALLENGE: Create an 18 card legacy game.


First lets define a legacy game:

A legacy game is a variant of tabletop board games in which the game itself is designed, through various mechanics, to change permanently over the course of a series of sessions.

Legacy games are board games whose rules and components change over time based on the outcome of each game played and the choices made by the player(s). They will oftentimes make physical changes to the board game by, for example: marking the cards, placing stickers, destroying components, opening sealed packages, and so on.

The changes made in a Legacy game are designed to be permanent. A Legacy game's full experience is played out in a campaign that can only be played once. To replay the full experience again, the player(s) would need to purchase another copy of the game or, if available, a "recharge pack".

Official and unofficial methods to circumvent Legacy mechanics are common in popular Legacy games.

What we love about legacy games are the customized experiences they provide, the sometimes spoilery discussion around the game, and the impact that permanence can have on a players decisions. 

Second, lets give you place to share your games, thoughts, look for playtesters and join in on the community behind these awesome games:

The Button Shy discord server has a whole section for designers, and a subsection for each of our contests. Visit it here and join along:

Now let's get into the rules:
-18 cards max
-Cards must be poker sized (2.5" x 3.5") and not square.
-Rules must be reasonable (a few pages of a google doc for example)
-No additional components or player provided components/tools except what is listed below:

  • Up to 3 - single sided - card sized sticker sheets may be included. These stickers will be cut out of the cards, so don't make the shapes too terrible or tiny to cut. These do not count towards your card count.

Additional rules:

  • Cards may be drawn or written on by the players. This would be permanent and NOT dry erase.
  • The rules may be drawn or written on by the players. This would be permanent and NOT dry erase.
  • Cards may be cut with scissors. Once again, keep any cuts within reason.
  • Cards may be destroyed or permanently removed from the game. Keep in mind, it's already a small game, so this shouldn't be used lightly (and maybe not at all).
  • Cards may have stickers placed onto them. Using the stickers above.
  • Up to 3 specific cards (out of the 18) may be set aside in a single black card sleeve before the game is played. You may use these cards as something hidden from the players. Note: One side of the card is visible in the card sleeve as only one side is black. Think a regular ultra pro style sleeve. You can also place up to 3 sticker sheets in the sleeve, along with the 0-3 cards.


Submissions will be accepted until Sunday May 31, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST.

Winner will be announced on or before Tuesday July 28, 2020.

Submission Requirements

For your submission, instead of emailing us, we have created a simple google form to collect the following information from you.

  1. Game Description: Including Game Title, Player Count, Estimated Play Time, Recommended Ages (if any), Brief Description of the game play.
  2. Print-and-Play File: This should include the rules and play sheet(s). The file can be hosted on either your own site, or a public one like Dropbox or Google Drive, or included as an attachment. IF YOUR FILES HAVE PERMISSIONS, PLEASE MAKE SURE THEY ARE OPEN SO THAT WE CAN SEND TO OTHER JUDGES.
  3. Short Pitch Video: No more than 3 minutes. This doesn't need to be any more than a handheld phone video, but we just request to see some visuals of the gameplay. WE RECOMMEND YOUTUBE OR VIMEO. WE WILL BE USING VIDEOS IN OUR WEB SERIES.

Additional Restrictions

Designs must be original works that do not infringe on any intellectual property. Submission must not be publicly available through any retail, secondary or print-on-demand market and may not be currently under consideration for publication by other publishers.

One submission per entrant.

Designers must be 18 years or older to enter.

While designs need not have final artwork or graphics, they should be complete and usable. All designs remain the intellectual property of the designers.


The winner will receive $100, paid via Paypal. All entries may be considered for publication by Button Shy Games (and will be offered a contract with royalties like any other design that we publish).


We will feature the game images and submission videos on our YouTube channel. We will discuss the finalists in detail and judge them on video as well. We will not be providing feedback on all entries, but watching the subsequent videos will show why specific games made it to the finalists or won. We plan to keep comments positive, and highlight why a game won instead of why a game lost.

Good luck everyone!


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