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  • Writer's picture Danielle Reynolds - @TokenGaymer

The Creation of Nut Stash

The idea for Nut Stash came while driving home from GenCon in 2017. My Fiancé and I had a long running joke that I was like a chipmunk because I stuffed my cheeks like one and could talk like Alvin & the Chipmunks. While she would yell “squirrel” anytime she saw one, like how I imagine a dog does. The theme of a species verses game fit the mechanics I was imagining.

I recently had played two dice games called Farkle and Tenzi with my Aunt Sue. The games made me realize how much fun rolling and matching dice was. In Tenzi you are rolling a group of dice trying to make all of them the same number or whatever rule you make up. My aunt has stage four breast cancer, so she has been in and out of hospitals and physical therapy offices the past 4 years. Her physical therapists used Tenzi and Farkle as an exercise. Having her roll the dice while standing for 5 to 15 minutes at a time. The dexterity of the dice rolling plus having something to concentrate on while standing helped her through PT.

I took the concept of these games and decided to match them to cards. Instead of rolling to match other dice; you roll to match numbers on a card. Beyond that, I added the element of chipmunks and squirrels. These furry creatures in autumn are on a race to find and store nuts for the coming winter. I created two types of numbered cards. The nut card which is indicated by a gold acorn. And the stash card indicated by a bronze chest. Each of these sets of cards had a different illustration on the back and a new illustration representing each number on the front. The nut cards featured illustrations of where a person might find nuts in their every day life. While the stash cards feature actual places chipmunks and squirrels hide their nuts.

To play the game each player rolls a single die and rapidly rolls to match the number on the card. Then you snatch the card to try and be faster then the other player(s). I liked the snatching concept because people love the action of taking things. The fast pace of a game like Spoons or War makes for a more exciting game. I wanted a game that everyone could play at once. That way no one is left out and no one has time to look at their phone. I made this game as a great starter for tabletop gamers or a casual board game night. A game that can be played in PT or at a school.

By adding an element of math on to the original matching I gave an opportunity to score bonus points and create a strategy. Same with negative points for remaining cards. Since the idea of the game is to store nuts in stashes you can add a 1 nut with a 2 nut to get a 3 stash card thus receiving a bonus point on top of a point for each nut card stored. I found that the people who win typically are either faster at snatching the cards or work towards bonus points.

Thanks to play testing I’ve made additions to the deck including two predators. They allow a break from the fast pace movement. Plus, a chance to change the game by stealing nuts from the other team as a hawk. Or undoing a stash by removing the stash card from the game as a coyote. Squirrels and chipmunks have many predators. I chose a hawk and coyote because of my home state of Arizona. I will say designing a coyote was difficult because there are very few differences between them and a wolf. We spent more time making that card then any other design in the deck. A fun perk of the predators are their actions aren’t always bad especially towards the end of the game when you don’t want leftover cards. The idea of these cards came from play testing at PAX: Unplugged 2018 in Philadelphia. Adam Skelding, Panda Manufacturing, and I reviewed comments and decided adding these cards would improve the game.

Week by week I have been trying to get in as many play tests as possible to see if there are any rules that need to be tweaked or card edits that need to be done. I’m happy to say I receive way more compliments then criticisms at this point. Since the game was originally designed to be a 2 or 4 player it is more fun to play in teams but 3 players facing off is still a lot of fun! I try and take videos but most times I’m playing the game as well.

The experience of creating this game has been amazing. I started the idea in August of 2017. Actively started working on designing the official art in August of 2018. My first official prototype was printed in November to demo at PAX: Unplugged 2018. The predator cards and icon color changes where finalized and printed by the end of January 2019. The box cover was finalized at the beginning of February. Currently, I have been creating the box, artwork for the upcoming Kickstarter, working on a video, play testing, adjusting the rule book and working on my blog/Facebook page. Since game design is not my full-time job I’ve been working nights and weekends on making this project a reality. Nut Stash will be the first of many games designed by Danielle Reynolds!

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