So, you want to publish a board game?

To some, the idea of publishing can sound daunting, while others might be excited to explore a new realm of experiences. Whichever side you find yourself on, you may not fully understand the extents you must go to in order to achieve your goal. There are multiple paths to choose from, so knowing your options is a great first step in the right direction.

A few (but not all) of your options are:

  1. Short-run self-publish
  2. Mass-market self-publish
  3. Licensing
  4. Digital
  5. Print & Play
  6. A mix of these choices

Many factors come in to play when first trying to decide between these options, but some of the most important are:

  1. Financing
  2. Motivation
  3. End goal

But before you ever reach these choices, you need a game!

Now, a quick Google search will bring you to a smorgasbord of articles heavily dedicated to the subject of “How to make a board game,” so I’ll save you the redundancy. However, if you have not yet familiarized yourself with the development process of designing your own board game, then use this article for future planning, and save it to review once you’ve reached the point of deciding how you wish to publish.

Now, let’s review your options and how they correlate to your factors.

Financing: This is one of the most, if not “the” most, important factor in deciding to publish your own game. Without financing, your board game can never transition from thought to print. Whether that financing comes from your own pocket, investors, crowdfunding backers, gifts from family and friends, or robbing a bank (I do not condone this method) it is impossible to move forward without it.

Motivation: No, I don’t mean your desire to publish. I mean the reason you want to publish. Are you just looking to get a few of your game concepts out into the field and build a name for yourself as a designer, or are you looking to start your own product line to sell through retail and wholesale channels? You have a few different paths you can take, depending on your answer.

End Goal: While this may overlap with motivation, it’s still important enough to address on its own. Some designers prefer to stay out of the business side of publishing, while others dive right in. You should address your end goal from the very start, because it will define the blueprint you need to get started.

Now let’s look at our options:

Short-run self-publishing: This is potentially the simplest of the self-publishing options. Companies like The Game Crafter, Board Games Maker, and Print & Play Games cater to short-run self-publishing here in the United States, offering excellent quality and the expense of… well, expense. They are not as cost effective as mass-producing your game in a dedicated overseas facility, but they can help you avoid many of the large upfront costs needed to publish your first game.

Let’s say your expendable cash is non-existent, but you’ve managed to scrounge together enough money to pay a generous artist to produce the artwork for your game. Or, perhaps you are blessed with artistic talent and your game is now print-ready. Congrats! A company like The Game Crafter provides you an option to begin selling your game without stocking or storing large quantities of it in your spare closet. Simply upload your art, order a printed proof, and within a couple of weeks you’re ready to start promoting your game for sale. Hurray! The largest caveat to using this method is that the cost of printing (aka: your overhead) is high, so your profit per item will be low, despite charging a premium when compared to similar size games produced using Mass-market self-publishing. That’s a segway!

Mass-market self-publishing: This method involves contracting with a manufacturer (typically overseas) that specializes in board games. Companies like Panda and Admagic have representatives in the United States who help facilitate the process, breaking down language barriers, but they charge a much higher rate due to their involvement. Speaking directly to companies like Whatz Games and Mojang can save you quite a bit of money, but it does involve some careful communication and a bit of acceptance for minor mistakes. In full disclosure, I often print with Whatz Games, and their final product is always top-notch.

You’ll need to be a registered business, but a simple DBA (doing business as) will do just fine. This method will have you wearing the hat of not just a board game designer, but of a quote negotiator as well as an international importer. You will be requesting quotes from manufacturers to find the best deal. Then, you’ll be requesting freight quotes to have your game shipped by sea or air. Unless your game is smaller than a standard deck of cards, the cost of air shipment is many times what you will pay by sea. The benefit to air is how quick it will arrive, since most freight by sea can take 30–60 days or more depending on circumstances.

Falling back to the subject of financing, this method requires a lot. Most manufacturers have a minimum of 1,000 units to be produced, although you might find some of the more competitive newer manufacturers willing to allow 500 to earn your business. I find it hard to recommend less than 1,000 units, since that is where you really start to benefit from quantity discounts. This cost will be a quarter of what companies like The Game Crafter can offer for similar quantities. But even if your game only costs $4.00 per unit to produce, that adds up to $4,000 for 1,000 units, plus additional fees for boxing, securing to a pallet, and delivering to the docks to prepare for freight.

Speaking of freight, it is definitely a major contributor to overhead. When I produced my first game in 2019, the cost to move 1,000 units set me back nearly a grand, plus customs fees. Today, that same quote is over double! The sea freight industry has been a mess for some time. From cargo ship backups, dock delays, and issues due to Covid-19, we’ve been experiencing some of the highest shipping rates in decades, with little sign of costs returning to normal. I know, normal is subjective, but it is difficult to swallow paying double, or in some instances triple, the cost of your initial production. Ranting aside, these items all add up to what you will eventually call the real “cost” of your game.

Now, let’s once again say your expendable cash is non-existent, but you’ve managed to put together a complete game. If you don’t have the financial standing to support the costs involved with producing a game, then you are exactly in my shoes. When I released my first game, Beasts: Edge of Extinction, I was barely supporting myself, let alone a game production. Despite this, I somehow scrounged together the money to pay Alisha Volkman to produce some fantastic art, while I used my own graphic design skills to put it all together into a neat little package.

But how did I afford to go from barely supporting myself to having a pallet of games delivered to my doorstep? Crowdfunding! I took a chance and created a campaign on Kickstarter that, thankfully, funded successfully on the first try. This was not without effort, however, as I had spent the last year and a half wearing yet another hat in marketing and advertising. I placed ads on social media, printed dozens of pre-production copies through The Game Crafter to send to game previewers to produce videos, and I showed off my game at popular gaming conventions. However, I did not properly plan for all of these expenses, and set myself back nearly $7,000 in credit card debt before I ever even started my campaign.

Unless you’re in a great financial state (which I was not,) you’re probably saying to yourself “wait, that’s a lot of money!” and you’re right, it is. Had I known then what I know now, I would have been more meticulous with my finances. Thankfully, in the years since that first campaign, sales of Beasts: Edge of Extinction have provided a fair amount of profit. Failing to create a proper financial plan from the start became a hard pill to swallow. I learned my lesson for you, so hopefully you don’t need to experience the same shock.

This story wasn’t an attempt to persuade you away from crowdfunding, as I’ve had two additional successful campaigns since and will continue to use it for upcoming projects. However, it was a warning that unless you’re ready, willing, and most importantly “capable” of wearing the hats of multiple job positions on your own, then things can easily get away from you.

Let’s review all those hats again:

  1. Game designer
  2. Print buyer
  3. Quote negotiator
  4. International importer
  5. Marketing / Advertiser
  6. Accountant
  7. Crowdfunder

That’s a lot of hats! Honestly, I probably could have broken this down further, as some jobs sit in-between the lines of these categories. But you get the picture, I hope.

Licensing: In contrast to mass-market or even short-run self-publishing, this is certainly the simplest, but not the easiest option. Confused? Let me explain. Licensing is essentially leasing your game concept to another company to produce, and they pay you a percentage based on the number of items produced. This usually involves little-to-no additional work on your behalf, other than hiring a lawyer to review your contract and ensure you regain your rights to the intellectual property when the terms conclude. Better yet, most publishers prefer to use (and maintain the rights to) their own art, so you can typically get away with using concept art in your pitches instead of paying an artist.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “this sounds great!” and it is, in a way. You can spend your time focusing on designing games, and not on wearing 6+ other hats. So what’s the catch? Well, you’ll only be paid an average of 5% of the MSRP they sell your game at, and typically only when they sell. That means that unless your game is the next Wingspan, you’ll get small checks (or likely bank transfers) every month. Of course, this varies based on the publisher, but it is a good starting point to understand what financial gains you can expect from your intellectual property.

In addition, publishers hear pitches from aspiring game designers on a daily basis. I personally know more designers who have never received a licensing offer, despite countless pitches for really innovative games (Bloodrunes comes to mind) than the contrary. Even though the board game industry is small, it is very competitive, and unless you still have a bit of emphasis on wearing a marketing hat to make your pitch stand out, it may get overlooked.

Digital: This is a realm I am personally yet to dive into. Not for lack of desire, but yet again, lack of financing. The thought of bringing Beasts: Edge of Extinction to the app marketplace is very enticing. But so far, my inquiries into companies offering to facilitate such a development have quoted in 5-figures. Something my little indie publishing company, Riftway Games, just cannot afford.

Does this mean you shouldn’t go this route? Of course not! If you have the financing to support the development and advertising needed to keep it going, then you’re 90% closer to succeeding than most (including myself) reading this article. Keep in mind, these expenses are continuous, and as seen with the defunct RWBY deck building app, when it is no longer profitable, it will disappear, unlike a physical card game.

Print & Play: Last but certainly not least, print & play games are extremely popular, especially for gamers on a budget or in remote locations with limited access to games. Your main overhead is the cost of artwork (unless you do it yourself) and marketing if you plan to sell it.

If you just want to get your game out there and don’t care about making money from it, sites like PnP Paradise offer you a built-in community of print & play gamers who are dedicated to the craft. If you are hoping to monetize on your creation (and I fully support this route) then PnP Arcade is a popular site that will display your print & play game alongside numerous others for a reasonable profit share.

Some very popular games started as print & plays: Secret Hitler, Sprawlopolis, and Black Sonata, to name a few. Some designers use the success of their print & plays to justify a traditional short-run or mass-market print production.

Conclusion: It’s up to you to decide which route is best for your project, but I hope these brief incites mixed with my own personal experiences can help guide you on your journey to game publishing.

The views and opinions expressed within this article are that of my own, and only that, views and opinions. I do not guarantee any information to be accurate or factual at the time of reading.

New expansion coming March 3!

Hello friends!

By this time, many of you have received your backer rewards. I hope you are truly enjoying playing Beasts: Edge of Extinction! If you have any questions about game play, please do not hesitate to reach out to Riftway Games on Facebook, Twitter, or here on Kickstarter. I am always happy to help answer your questions.

There are still a very small handful of backers who have not yet filled out our GameFound Pledge Manager to receive their rewards. Please check your email for the invitation link or your Kickstarter messages for instructions on how to access it. If you do not see either of these, or you already filled out your survey but have not received your reward, please message directly for help. I want to make sure everyone gets everything they are due!

Dodo Care

Be sure to prime, paint, and/or clear coat your 3D resin printed dodo first player marker if you plan to keep it out of the box for extended periods of time near sources of UV light. This includes natural sunlight. While it doesn’t happen very quickly, resin is UV reactive, so the longer it is exposed it could have an adverse reaction like shrinking, splitting, or melting. Please take precautions to ensure the longevity of your dodos!

Game Expansion

On March 3rd we will be launching our first game expansion: Revenge of the Dodos

If you are a backer of Beasts: Edge of Extinction who downloaded the print and play files made available last year, you may remember that an early version of Revenge of the Dodos was included for you to play-test. I really appreciate all who provided feedback to help us finalize the cards and rules!

If you are still unfamiliar with the expansion, here is our current marketing blurb:

In Revenge of the Dodos, eliminated players now control a bevy of dodo spirits, each imbued with a unique special ability. It’s all or nothing, as you seek vengeance on the vile beasts ravaging dodo kind!

This fun little expansion has been play-tested throughout the last year, while awaiting the final production of the base game. We now believe it is ready to hit the market! This is a great time for those who missed our first campaign or who wish to pick up another copy of the Beasts: Edge of Extinction base game along with the expansion.

As always, we will be adding some fun exclusive items to your pledge levels as well as some early bird discounts. We hope each of you will be able to join us for the campaign! 

 Follow the Revenge of the Dodos campaign:

Beasts Final Production Sample

At 9:30 AM Friday morning I received a package via FedEx. It was the final production sample of Beasts: Edge of Extinction from our printing partner Whatz Games in China. All I can say is WOW! My phone camera really can’t do it justice, but here’s an attempt anyway:

I’m really excited for each of you to receive this game. We appear to be keeping on track for our October through November estimated delivery schedule. China is celebrating a holiday right now, but production should start back up in a few days. Once they do, I’m told it should take about 15 more days to wrap up production and deliver them to the docks in Shanghai. From there we will hope Poseidon keeps a watchful eye on our shipment as it traverses the great wide ocean.

I honestly don’t expect any trouble with customs, but there is an unknown amount of time before it can be cleared and transported by truck to our storage facility. I’ll be sure to keep each of you up to date as things transpire.

Thanks again for being a supporter. We’re in the final stretch!

– Derek Zyn

Lots of updates!

Hello backers! It’s been a busy few months working to bring Beasts to your tables across the globe. I know many of you are eager for some updates, so here’s quite a few! 

Print & Play Release

To start, the Print & Play version is ready for backers to download! Just look for the link ink your inbox!

We welcome feedback on the P&P and are happy to provide updates if anything is found to be amiss. Due to the nature of health tracking in this game by using a plastic clip, we have included a second form of health tracking more suitable for printing.

Art Updates

While the artwork we showed for the campaign was already pretty great, we have since realized there were still a lot of needed adjustments for the best possible print quality. Many of the images you’ve previously seen have now been enhances for more vibrant color, clearer detail, and an overall better game experience. Mixed with the upgraded linen finish and UV coating, these cards are really going to pop!

We also realized that the double sided sheet of paper being provided for the instructions was too easily damaged over the course of only light use. I’m very big on quality and providing lasting components. Because of this, we’ve upgraded to a 16 page, full color, aqueous instruction booklet you can preview here:

We also did a complete redesign of the box art to show off more of the amazing characters that Alisha Volkman has drawn. We feel it has more shelf appeal and excitement than the demo box we used in the campaign. Have a look at the mock-up:

 Of course, after all these updates, my original assessment of June/July fulfillment is not possible and I truly apologize for the delay. This is my first campaign and I really want to make sure what you receive is the absolute best possible product. Doing so has unfortunately taken more time than I accounted for, but once I have a definitive ship date I will be sure to share it with all of you. Until then, I will be sure to keep each of you updated on any new information as it becomes available.

I’m extremely grateful for each of you who have been so amazingly supportive and patient as we make sure everything in this game is “just right”. Thank you all so very much!


Through all of the artwork updates, I’ve been negotiating with over a dozen different printers to ensure we select one who could represent this game with the highest quality standards, as well as keep the same cut size we use for the promo cards we’ve given out at conventions. This has been a more daunting task than I ever realized and I’ve learned a lot from the process. Every company seems to use a slightly different card cut to make them unique. This really makes it difficult to shop around when you have many future expansions planned and do not want to be locked into one company. After careful evaluation we have selected Whatz Games in Shanghai, China to print the game. 

My only prior experience has been with US based company The Game Crafter, but dealing with Aaron and his team at Whatz has been going really well. They have very specific standards for artwork, which lead to some of the previously stated realizations and needed updates. We still plan to continue to use The Game Crafter in the future for promo cards, replacement health clips and possible short run addons and expansions, but Whatz Games will be printing this flagship and I couldn’t be happier with them, so far.

Custom Dice

Using Whatz has opened up a door for us to customize our dice to exact pantones, instead of just ordering pre-made dice in standard colors. This is a fantastic option since a few of our character’s colors are definitely non-standard.

Pledge Manager

We are diligently working with the team over at GameFound to provide a quality pledge manager for Beasts. We are still learning the system, but we think it will definitely work in the favor of our backers. Hate pledge managers? Don’t worry, we will still send out the Kickstarter survey form. The benefits of a pledge manager is if you decide you’d like to add another copy of the game or upgrade to a higher pledge level, you can! The Kickstarter survey doesn’t give you this type of flexibility, but is great for those of you who are already happy with their current pledge.

Addon items that will be available in GameFound:

  • Pledge level upgrade
  • Additional game copy
  • Premium T-Shirt
  • Event and Resource Play-mat

Expansion Concept Playtesting

We are giving each of you access to the demo Print & Play of the first expansion concept we are playtesting, entitled Revenge of the Dodos. In 3+ player games, eliminated players take control of a special revenge deck they can use to cause havoc for the remaining beast players. Each card depicts a special dodo with unique abilities and fun artwork. 

Your goal is to eliminate all of the remaining beast players. Sound easy? Guess again! The final 2 beast players must be eliminated simultaneously for the revenge deck player(s) to be victorious. This can add an element of co-op in 4+ games as each of the revenge players keep their cards hidden from beast players, but can share and strategize with each other to determine the best path to victory.

We are having a fun time with this expansion concept and we think you will too. We’d also really appreciate any feedback you can provide about your experiences with it.

Look for the Revenge of the Dodos demo expansion concept in your inbox soon!

That is all for now, again I truly apologize for the delay but I’m very excited for all the changes and upgrades we have coming for this game. A backer recently told me they’d rather wait for quality than receive sub-par quickly. I also have a few projects I’ve backed that I’m eagerly awaiting, so I definitely understand the excitement as well as the patience it takes to support a project like this. I truly feel blessed. 

Hopefully these print & play files help curb the edge for a little while! 😉

Until next time,

Derek Zyn

Happy New Year!

Well, we did it! Beasts was successfully funded on Kickstarter on Dec 14 and the funds were finally transferred yesterday to begin the journey of production . I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for your help and support in making this a reality.

So whats next?

To start, Beasts is now on the Indiegogo’s InDemand platform to allow those who missed the original Kickstarter to still get in on the fun, minus the Kickstarter exclusives. But don’t worry, we’re still working towards stretch goals until mid-February – or until our manufacturer gives us a hard cutoff date – so even if you are already a backer you can still share this project in hopes of unlocking some cool upgrades!

You can use the original Kickstarter link to access the Indiegogo page by clicking on the PRE-ORDER NOW button, or you can go directly to Indiegogo via this link:–4

I’ll be running a contest soon to help promote the Indiegogo page, so keep an eye to your email for details. I’ve been asked a few times if backers are eligible to win contests and the answer is definitely yes, so make sure to enter!

The Print & Play version of the game will unfortunately be delayed, due to changes needed for proper health tracking. The physical game requires plastic health clips that slide along the side of your character card, but doing this with paper doesn’t work very well. To resolve this, I’m creating special health cards for the P&P version. I’ll be adding the Argentavis character with Scavenge ability to the P&P version to help make up for the delay.

That’s it for now. Thank you all again and keep checking back for future updates!

Happy New Year!

Derek Zyn

Beasts @ Board Game Geek Con – Nov 14-18

Hi all and Happy Halloween!

First, our How-to-Play video has been completed and ready for your viewing pleasure!

Thanks again to Baker Odom over at Bored Online? Board Offline! for providing this.

In case you didn’t know, we will be at Board Game Geek Con this November 14-18 working with the Indie Game Alliance in booth IL-04. Stop by for some fun Beasts swag and enter our drawing to win pre-release copies of the game and even a 6″ 3D printed dodo!

Every attendee at BGG.Con will receive an exclusive Argentavis character card, not included in the base game.

Not attending BGG.Con but still want to win a pre-release copy of Beasts: Edge of Extinction? Of course you do! In the next few days I will be posting on social media about how you can enter to win.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget, November 14 is our Kickstarter launch. We will be doing some live streams from BGG.Con so stay tuned here on the website or on social media for updates.

Until next time, keep gaming!

– Derek Zyn

This message has been Dodo Approved!

Beasts Previews and Where to See Them

Hello everyone! Derek here, back again with another Beasts: Edge of Extinction blog post. I bet you thought I was going to be posting one of these every day since my first two were back to back. I sure fooled you! Truth is, if I were to write one of these every single day I would be setting myself back quite a bit on time, but I do want to keep you all updated on how things are progressing so expect a new post every 1 to 3 weeks, unless something very exciting happens and I can’t wait to share!

On to the important stuff…

Preview game copies: Baker Odom of Bored Online? Board Offline! and Jonathan Hill aka Illusion of The Geekly Grind both received their preview copies of Beasts: Edge of Extinction in the mail yesterday. Joseph Nicholas of Indie Table Top should be receiving his copy any day now. I’m very excited to hear what these experienced reviewers think and I’m sure we’ll be finding out soon when their unbiased reviews hit the interwebs. Lets all keep our fingers crossed for some positive reviews to help our Kickstarter – launching November 14th – pick up some steam.

Today, Brian Fiore over at Just Got Played reached out about doing a game review. I’ve seen a few of their episodes on YouTube and I’m pleased my game will be included in mid November. I also heard from Will Meadows at Tatrum House who suggested I submit information on the game to them to potentially be selected for a review. I love the quality of video they produce so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they are able and willing to fit my game in. Either way, I’ll be sponsoring one of their podcasts soon, so the word will definitely be getting out about Beasts: Edge of Extinction.

As more reviewers sign on board I’ll be sure to let each and every one of you know. Until then, don’t forget to check out the YouTube channels of all the great previously mentioned folks!

Bored Online? Board Offline!

The Geekly Grind

Indie Table Top

Just Got Played

Tantrum House

Bored Online? Board Offline!

Greetings and salutations! Derek here with the second update to the Beasts: Edge of Extinction Developers Blog.

How to Play Video:

Baker Odom of Bored Online? Board Offline! has graciously offered to provide a how to play video for Beasts. Of course, I happily accepted and expressed my gratitude. Baker seems like a really genuine guy and I’m excited to see his take on the game. I’m told it should be ready by October 14th (or earlier) so if you have not yet experience Beasts in person, Baker will give you an in-depth look at how the base game scenario, Edge of Extinction, plays out. If you’ve never seen Bored Online? Board Offline! now is a great time to…once you’ve finished reading this blog post, of course.

Where You Can Play:

Beasts: Edge of Extinction will be available to play at 2 up coming game conventions so far.

In the south, you will be able to find Beasts in the Board Game Geek Con library from November 14-18.

In the north, Beasts’ amazing artist Alisha Volkman will have a copy of the game on hand at Crafter Con / Protospiel Madison November 29 through December 2, where she will also be a guest speaker. Alisha is a highly experienced talent of the game development industry, putting ink to well over 30 games currently on the market. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to check her out!

That’s all for now. Until next time…game on!


Hello everyone and welcome to the very first Developers Blog for Beasts: Edge of Extinction, coming to Kickstarter on November 14, 2018.

As some of you might already know, Beasts: Edge of Extinction is my first game release under the Riftway Games moniker. Being a first time game developer, I had a lot of obvious challenges ahead of me when I started this journey in early 2017.  Thankfully my previous experience in marketing, sales, product development and customer service have given me at least the basic tools needed to get started. I like to believe the last 2 decades of my life have been leading up to this very moment.

Where we’re at:

Currently Beasts is in its final stages of pre-production. Only minor changes to wording, for the sake of clarity, are being performed on the game cards and a few adjustments to the artwork is being made by the extremely talented Alisha Volkman. Instructions are also being finely tuned for your pleasure. If anyone is interested in reviewing the instructions and providing feedback, email me and I’ll be more than happy to share them.


Next month preview copies of the game will be shipped to online game reviewers who have agreed to give their honest opinion of the game. I’m both excited and terrified of this. We’ve had a really positive response from game-testers over the last year and a half, but these guys and gals review games for a living! Who knows what they’ll think, but I can’t wait to find out!

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing this experience with you!

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