The 18 Card Challenge: Holidays!

The 18 Card Challenge is back once again! After some difficulties with previous challenges, we stepped away for more than a year. During that time there have been a lot of changes at Button Shy, and we’re finally ready to restart them. There’s a new team in place to help make sure we can keep things running smoothly. For us, that’s a huge cause for celebration. Which is convenient because:

The challenge this time is Design An 18 Card Game About…a Holiday!

As we head into the tail end of the year, we want to focus on holidays of all kinds. (For our purposes, we’re also including traditional or cultural festivals.) Whether it’s Halloween or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Christmas, International Talk Like a Pirate Day or something even more off-the-wall, we want to see what makes that holiday really special. Many holidays include gifts, candy, or time with loved ones as part of the celebrations. What makes the holiday you choose stand out from the rest?

On top of the holiday theme, we need to see elegant, engaging gameplay. We want games that focus on the holiday but that people might still want to play year-round. If you can manage that, you’ll have a strong entry in this challenge. 

Lastly, we ask that you be very thoughtful and respectful around cultural holidays, especially ones that aren’t a part of your background.

Additional restrictions:

The following ideas and mechanics are suggested against:

-Trick Taking
-Sprawlopolis clones
-Food Chain Island clones
-Games where you make and rearrange a 3x3 grid for the whole game
-Games where you set up 3 lanes and compete head to head across the lanes
-Games where players simultaneously reveal cards, compare them and that's it
-Roleplaying or storytelling games

Next, 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:

-The game must be exactly 18 cards. Cards must be poker size, not square.

-The players cannot draw on the cards, cut them, or modify them in any way.

- You may not use or require any additional components, including the typical Button Shy wallet packaging, in this design. Players should be able to track any relevant information in their heads, without calculators or paper. 

-Rules, including diagrams, must fit on 2 pages of a Google doc with a minimum font size of 10.


Submissions will be accepted from now until December 15, 2023 at 11:59 PM EST.

The winner will be announced on or before February 2, 2024.

Submission Requirements

Fill out the following Google doc with the below information.

  • Game Description: Including Designer Name(s), Game Title, Player Count, and Brief Description of the game play.
  • Print-and-Play File: This should include the rules and game files. 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.
  • 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 do not need a full play through or anything fancy. WE RECOMMEND YOUTUBE OR VIMEO. WE WILL BE USING SOME VIDEOS IN OUR RESULTS POSTS.

Additional Restrictions

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

Designers must be 18 years or older to enter.

While designs need not have final artwork or graphics, they should be complete and playable. All designs remain the intellectual property of the designers. AI-generated artwork is not permitted.


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


We may feature the game images and submission videos on our website and social media. We will not be providing feedback on all entries, but hopefully seeing the finalists and winner will show why specific games pushed through the competition. We plan to keep our comments positive, and highlight why a game won instead of why a game lost.

Good luck everyone!

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