Board Games and Card Games
It's kinda my thing
All my life I have invented stuff. At ten years old me and my friend Josh got our picture in the paper for inventing the "Trike" - A three wheeled cycle we made by attaching a tricycle front end to a two seated bench with two big wheels on either side. My latest passion over the past ten years has been inventing games. Not electronic games but board and card games. Specifically, Bag-O-Loot and Christmas Delivery.
The History Of Christmas Delivery
(Learn more about game play here.)
I was visiting my granddaughter for Christmas where I had an inspiration for a new game. I wanted to include her in the creative process of inventing something so she helped draw the squares and come up with the characters in the game while I worked on the board layout and rules.
The First Board
She liked it so much we played every day during my visit - which was great because that allowed me to refine the game play and the board. At that time we were using beads from her bead collection to represent the sleigh and tree lights. I printed up a crude version of the game and taped the paper to a piece of cardboard.
This version, however seemed a bit complex with the one-way streets. I wanted the game to be so simple it was basically intuitive.
That lead me to the pre-cursor to the final board design. This one worked really well and added many levels of excitement with the placement of the magic squares and Scrooge spaces. I left her with a cardboard version of the game and went back home to make a "real" prototype and do some market research.
The game has been a huge hit with everyone that has played it. It is simple enough for a five year old to play yet intreguing enough to keep the whole family interested. I knew I was on to something.
The Final Touch
As I made more prototypes and gave them out for people to try I came up with one improvement that would be the signature of the game: the Light-Up Christmas Tree. It took a month of constant redesign and tinkering to get the tiny electronic parts to fit just right, but here it is!
You wouldn't believe the reaction on kids faces when they play for the first time and get to light the star on the tree! There excitement is over the top and they want to play over and over.
So I have high hopes that families all over the world get to make Christmas Delivery part of their annual Christmas tradition. I know in my heart it's possible, I just hope I can make enough of them!
The History Of Bag-O-Loot
(Learn more about game play here.)
I think it was the winter of 1990 when my daughter and I were sitting around one night and wanted to play a game. Tired of games like Monopoly and UNO, I suggested we invent our own. We took out some playing cards and got to work.
We both liked to play Rummy 500, so we took that game and added a twist... What if you could steal sets from the other players? Then we decided that you would only make sets of matching cards with no runs and that a "completed set" would be called a Bag-O-Loot and could not be stolen.
The basics of Bag-O-Loot were born. I wrote our rules on a piece of paper and tucked them away for "someday".
Ten Years Later
As my daughter was getting ready to graduate high school and we were looking toward college and college tuitions, I remembered Bag-O-Loot. I thought to myself, "What if I could make and sell the game she and I invented to help pay for her education? So I dug up the old rules and got to work.
The Gold Bag
My wife was the one that came up with the idea of packaging the cards in a little draw string bag. I remember hand stamping the first couple hundred games with the Bag-O-Loot logo and making little plastic display baskets in our living room. But what a great idea she had - it made the game a perfect stocking stuffer. And once we found a manufacturer to make the shiny gold bags it was a real attention getter in the stores.
That first Christmas sales were amazing. We sold over 5000 copies of the game thanks to a catchy jingle, a TV commercial, and those awesome shiny gold bags. Two of the local Walgreens stores let me sell them and it became the highest selling non-advertized item in the store. This set my expectations very high for the coming year.
I immediately got to work for an even bigger year in 2011. I changed the packaging so they could sell in more traditional retail stores and ordered (gulp) 50,000 games from the manufacturer.
But as the Christmas season approached, my order never arrived. Delays in production and shipping left me unable to get the game out to retailers in time for the holiday season. In January I had 50,000 games, nowhere to store them and I was out a ton of money.
The Book and Plush
Not being one to ever give up, I looked for ways to recover in 2012. We had made a full sized costume of the Snicth character on the back of the cards to march in parades and promote the game. He was such a big hit, my wife suggested I write a children's book about him.
So now I set out to self-publish a book to go along with the game, and as if that wasn't enough, we made a plush toy of Snitch and a Junior version of the Bag-O-Loot game.
Armed with this array of new products I was ready to go for the holiday season but at this point I was out of money and could not afford to promote or advertize. Sales were fair at best - we sold another 10,000 games and a few hundred books but that was not enough to cover all the money that had been spent.
If my wife had not talked some sense into me I might have mortaged the house and gotten further into debt trying to recoup my losses. We sadly made the decision to sell off most of the inventory for pennies on the dollar and call it quits.
10 Year Anniversary
Ten years after the initial release of Bag-O-Loot I decided to update the game and re-release it. In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, I though this might be something people would appreciate while being stuck at home.
The rules were simplified and the packaging went back to the original gold bag and Bag-O-Loot is once again available for sale, but only on this web site (for now.) I am relying on word-of-mouth and social media to promote the game, so if you get one and like it please tell your friends!