Cartel [card game] [prototype]

edited in Projects
What is Cartel

Competitive boardgame
2 - 4 players
Play time 30 minutes

In Cartel, you are the head of a criminal gang in a Cartel. Face off against other forces by building business towers to grow your forces, maneuver them to control the most lucrative buildings to generate income, and corrupt officials to gain advantages over your opponent.

But watch out! When corruption gets out of hand, someone could turn Snitch and sell everyone out for the win!

Update: June 10:

How to play video:

Print n Play PDF file version 0.5! Grab it from this link:

----------original post--------------

Looking for help playtesting this game! It's a bunch of cards which I put together with sleeves and magic cards, we can meet up if you'd like, or I can send you Print n Play files if you're awesome :D

After a couple of playtests, some major tweaks and overhauls, I’m happy to show you my latest card game design - Cartel V3.0! :D

Cartel is a two to four (tentatively) player game where you play the head of a corporation in a Cartel. On the surface, you’re building a metropolis of thriving commerce, but in the shadows, you vie for dominance against other Cartel lords by racketeering for territories with your hired muscle and manipulating the City by pocketing shady officials… But careful, rely on corruption too much, and everyone may be snitched out by a traitorous member of the Cartel!

Isometric stacking buildings with cards!

The design of this game began with the idea of cards that make isometric, stackable buildings. This idea lent itself to a game of territorial control - and as I’m the BIGGEST Netrunner fan in the world, it had started as a game called Corporate War - the name of a Netrunner card. (How’s that for a piece of pointless trivia :P) I’m not going into the history of this game much more than this :P


At the heart of Cartel are these buildings, or floors, or businesses, which give you points when they’re A) controlled by your thugs, AND B) placed correctly. There are four types of businesses in the game, each only generating benefits when placed in their preferred spot:

A - Anniewares General stores are worth one point anywhere in the city. They are unrestricted in placement because Seven Elevens don't care where they are.

T - TopTech Technologies are worth three points when they remain at the top of a building at the end of the game, because tech giants need a view.

G - Groundhog Coffees are worth two points when they’re on the ground floor, because I've never seen a Starbucks on the second storey.

D - DoubleDown Casinos are worth three points when they’re connected to another Double Down, because casinos need to be big.

The businesses are set up in the City, and each cartel boss vie for control with...

The Muscle

The thugs are what keeps what’s yours yours, and helps you move into what’s not yours. As you build businesses in the City, you gain more members in your gang, which you use to move around the board and control buildings. Conflict may resolve in the removal of opposing thugs if you manoeuvre a superior number into the right place!

Thugs are also one of the ways that the game may end - when any player reaches 10 thugs in their gang, the game ends because one of the gangs has reached super notoriety, and scoring commences.


No honour among thieves

There is another set of cards that represent city officials, the proud people of City governorship… that you can get into your pocket to do your bidding. In addition to adding to your score, each personality has special powers when you buy them into your service: Constable Fernandez can call a police raid and force all thugs in one place to evacuate their current location, Senator Johns is less subtle and can pull two thugs outright off the street with a crackdown order, and Warden Manny can keep your thugs from being thrown off the streets entirely, returning them to play as long as you have Warden Manny in your pocket…


...So why would you ever lose Warden Manny? There is more than one copy of every pocket card, so when you hold any pocket personality, when someone else plays another of the same name, yours is immediately discarded. The corrupt are fickle by definition!

Pocket cards also provide the second game-ending condition - The Snitch. When corruption becomes impossible to cover up, one of the cartel lords can turn state witness and rat everyone out, ending the game. The Snitch is worth A LOT of points. How much? I haven’t decided yet - it’ll require a heck of a lot more playtesting to get a feel for the points. It should be a large enough payout that it should win any game outright, but it should also be possible to overcome if a player has a solid enough stranglehold on the city’s territories.


Join me in The City

So that’s about it for the game. There are a few things I hadn't spoken about like the road cards, which provide a sort of a limit to where buildings can be started, as well as the payment for for building up being discarding of cards, and the way you generate resources (card draws per turn) by occupying a tall building, but those are details that hold the game together while the exciting stuff happens. I LOVE thematic games, and with Cartel my goal was to create a game where you actually feel like a criminal lord jockeying for territory, using every available resource, while the cloud of being Snitched out hangs above everyone’s head.

If you’re interested in helping me playtest Cartel, just leave a comment here, and I can send you a Print and Play copy of the game when it’s ready! (It’s still quite messy right now despite the clean look it has in the photos)

Thanks for reading!

This was duplicated from my blog post: and I would REALLY love to get you onboard playtesting :)

Download Print and Play file:



  • edited
    By the way, here are some focus questions that would help me immensely if you could have a think about it ^^

    Some things to keep in mind
    Here are some thought starters for feedback:

    1. Did you like the theme? Why?
    2. How did you find the language used? (Associates, businesses, etc)
    3. Did the rules make sense? Were there any trouble/confusion areas?
    4. Did you as the player feel like you had control? That you would win/lose based on your choices?
    5. Did you find that you learn strategies and ways to improve the way you could play the game as you played, or after playing?
    6. How would you describe the game to new players in a short and effective way?
    7. How did the combat feel? Did you want more combat? Why?
    8. What do you like about Cartel? Why?
    9. What don’t you like about Cartel? Why?
    10. Would you play again?
    11. Anything else at all?

    Thanks, much appreciated! :D
  • Can I just say how gosh-darn cool the isometric building stacking idea is? Okay?

    The isometric building stacking idea is fucking cool.

    I worry that it might only read from 1 direction, but it's neat as hell anyway :) Also, make more floor types.
    Thanked by 2Tuism iceblademush
  • when are we getting a video Let's Play example?
  • That's a great idea, I've never done one of those, but sure yeah, I should try and get one done :)

    Time to go a-researching other Let's Plays :)
  • edited
    It's the problem with making board games; unlike digital games which can be experienced on the web or quickly downloaded and played. Board games require the viewer to assembly the game and, more often than not, boardgames are multiplayer so a reviewer has to also rope in other people just to see what the game is about. A Let's Play or overview video will, I believe, increase your market 100-fold compared to just posting a print-and-play.
  • Yeah that's absolutely true. People even find reading a chore :P

    I'll need some kind of static camera setup or a person as a tripod :P And editing. And a script. Goodness video production is tough @@
  • just do it rough so the forum readers can get an idea. It's not the video you're going to share with the world just yet.
  • I love the isometric stacking cards idea :D would love to play it some time. How long does a game take? Maybe have a quick game as a break from LD this weekend :P
  • Well I'll bring it Friday already so we can play it while we're not jacked in yet :P A typical game I'd say is 20 - 30 mins, but learning games has proven to be longer, like 40 - 50min or so. It's not a long game :)

    Had two more playtests today, both three players which was a first for me, and they turned out to be pretty good! First game was with non-boardgamers so it took some explaining but they got it in the end, and I dominated with a corner strategy, and the second game was VERY well rounded, ending score at 19-19-22 with the Snitch almost getting out towards the end, and I didn't even win :)

    Playtest 2: 3 player, score unknown

    Playtest 3: 3 players, score 19-19-22
  • edited
    Hi all!

    I've finally compiled a Print n Play PDF file! you can grab it from this link:

    I wanted to use a but argh. Nevermind.
    know it's a and people might be averse to click a, but I was trying to see if I can track number of downloads, so was trying to find how to track a link with Google Analytics and I don't see a quick and easy way (quick and easy is relative I guess)... Is there another way?

    I've designed and made the entire thing in black and white so you can print it on the cheap. That also means a lot of the iconography and design is black and white friendly as opposed to being final friendly. But it's ok for prototyping.

    Also I've left out any form of artwork, again, (except the concept on the pocket cards cos I just had that idea and sketched it out) because prototype.

    The best way to play is to use old cards (Magic is the go-to for me) and cheapy sleeves (R15 for 100, can't go wrong there!), but if you feel like printing cardboard you can too, though the sleeve method is the best best for shuffling.

    Some focussed questions if you ever get to playing it!

    1. Does anything seem confusing? If so, is it the game that's confusing, or is it the rules-writing that's confusing??
    2. What do you think of the theme? Does it fit the mechanic?
    3. What do you think of the mechanics? I'm torn between keeping it purely focussed on the buildings vs having a little variety (thugs, snitch and pocket mechanics)
    4. I'm thinking of a re-theme of the game, yes this should really be the last thing but it's just an idea - instead of a dark city where criminal cartels work against each other vying for control, I was thinking a Cthulu re-theme - the City of R'lyeh is rising out of the sea, and the ancient ones gather their followers (instead of Thugs) to gather power through rising spires (instead of buildings). The ancient one that gathers the most power by the fateful hour is the one that will awake from the ancient slumber. Investigators may hamper the ancient ones' progress, and someone may complete the Yellow Sign and send R'lyeh back into the pacific depths... What do you think? XD

    Attached the rules page
    and again, the full PDF download:

    Thaaaaanks everyone :)

    edit: The number of cards is 73 not 79. That was a mistake :P

    2480 x 3508 - 465K
  • No freaking waays! Steve! This is just purely brilliant! Excellent work dude! PDF downloaded. :)
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • I've had a few more playtests of late, and here are my findings :)

    1. The rules could do with some clarification, so that'll be my next goal. All the information needed is there, just some of them aren't super clear and some of can be easily misunderstood.

    2. To go with the above, I'm gonna make a video explaining how it plays. It's really not that complicated :P Thanks for that @Fengol, I'll get to it eventually XD

    3. Gameplay wise, I have yet to confirm a dominant strategy - which is really a good sign. A eggs-in-one-basket approach is bound to be screwed up by one or two big counter cards.

    4. Though, some big counter cards feel a bit too swingy. I'm finding that keeping those held back to the end of the game makes those last few turns exceedingly important. I'll need to alleviate this by having cards that make keeping cards to the last a dangerous proposition. Cards that are big, almost undesirable swing cards when held back to the last turn/s: Tracy who kicks three associates (I changed it from all to 3) to the curb, Sven, especially when he flips sides,

    5. Streets - they are polarised by two directions - they're relatively blank making them great payment cards, which speed up the game, yet sometimes they're a bit too bland for taste. But they're still useful though - they open up cheap building spots if you do hold onto them. Which is great for amassing Associates quickly.

    6. One thought to alleviate the above is to make streets DO SOMETHING. In fact they could even absorb the pocket cards and further simplify the game rules. It's under consideration.

    7. The Snitch would have to find a new home if I kick the Pockets to the curb - I'm still up in the air as to whether to keep the Snitch or not. The Snitch really rarely comes out, but when it does it's usually in the Snitch's favour (as it should).

    8. Tracking points throughout the game is a bit tough despite it being all open information on the table, but that' mostly because I'm a maths fail, I think. The points don't need tallying as it progresses, but sometimes I wanna see who's leading and I go "derp".

    Cool, so an update is coming soon, methinks :)

    Playtesting at a picnic, with one experienced boardgamer and one inexperienced boardgamer. So that was pretty positive that she got the hang of it. Also it was the first time the Snitch got played with me! And I didn't win :P


    Playtesting at Ludum Dare, among game developers, which was really awesome. @edg3 tried to break the game by doing a super focussed strategy of building nothing but a big tower and far away from other players. It could have gone either way. Need more testing on that front. Also tried a combat rule where moving into a space killed one associate from both sides. It was a bad rule change :P


    Playtesting with Pudding and Tracy, who had their own copy made, kudos! :D This one went quite smoothly, and we discussed how the game should end - whether the player who triggers the last turn ends the game right there, or whether everyone gets another round. This last round thing is super important as there are potential for some really swingy plays. Like REALLY swingy. I think the swingyness should be defendable, so that's another balance thing to look at.

  • May 14 - Massive update! :D All playtesters still welcome! :D


    Cartel is a card game with:
    1. Isometric, stackable city-building mechanics, like SimCity!
    2. Area control and simple territorial battles.
    3. A bit of hidden information and traitor elements.

    2 - 4 players
    20 - 40 minutes game

    73 cards.
    4 double sided reference cheat cards.
    40 tokens, in 4 different colours, 10 of each colour.



    Download Cartel V0.5 Print and Play files!


    1. Completely reworked print and play files, much more white! And colour added in case you want to use it. But you can play in black and white too.

    2. Card backs included.

    3. A couple of cards were changed for balance, more about that at the end.

    4. Super comprehensive overview added, read that for a quick summary of how the game works!

    5. A lot more comprehensive rules - complete with illustrations to make it a lot easier to understand.


    Game overview page:



    Also mocked up a bunch of designs of what the cards could look like in the end (including those above) - nothing near final at all... But it's a start!




    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • edited
    Hey everybody :)

    So it's come time to wonder if I should keep going with this or shelve it.
    I'd like to hear your opinons on this if - if you haven't bothered looking, why not? Etc?

    Some +s and -s so far:

    + I've received really good positive feedback with anyone that I did manage to play this with.
    - BUT it's obviously biased because they know me and I'm there to explain in person.
    + I enjoy playing it and I'm a huge critic XD
    - BUT I can't judge my own stuff fairly XD
    + The core novelty always gets positive response
    - BUT I have yet been able to get anyone outside of people I know to playtest - that means there's been quite a bit of comments and response on boardgamegeek, but noone's playtested yet. (Thread:
    - It could simply because cardgames are hard to make for prototyping (it's fairly quick for me now but I have a system of running to the printshop, then magic cards and cheapie sleeves)
    - it could be because the theme/language use is unappealing
    - it could be because my posts tend to get too long-winded and people get TLDR;?
  • It's the problem with making board games; unlike digital games which can be experienced on the web or quickly downloaded and played. Board games require the viewer to assembly the game and, more often than not, boardgames are multiplayer so a reviewer has to also rope in other people just to see what the game is about.
    @Tuism - I think @Fengol hit the nail on the head with the quote above.
  • Oh I don't disagree with that, but that's only a part of it. I mentioned in my one point that being a card game that it'll be especially harder to check out, compared to dice and a few pieces for a board. Because I post on BoardGameGeek, I see that there are plenty of people who both look at AND make prototypes. And hanging around there a fair bit means I do see how people are interacting and if people are interacting with other prototypes. What I'm seeing is basically... Well, yeah. People are looking at prototypes and interacting in more intensive ways on other games, and I'm just asking what people thought honestly - beyond the dreadfully obvious.

    I'm trying to learn something here :P

    But hey if the obvious is ALL there is then er, I guess that's just that then :)
  • edited
    Hi guys :) So for tonight's JHB meetup this evening, I've made a video to introduce Cartel. I thought I'd put it up first to give you guys a head start in thinking about it :)

    Again, if you can help to make this game better by playtesting, here's the Print and Play file you can download and make use of:

    (the ending bit is just a fast forward of a game in action on repeat, it's really only there as background fluff while we chat at the meetup!)

    Cheers all :D

    P.S.: Some things to keep in mind
    Some thought starters for feedback:

    1. Did you like the theme? Why?
    2. How did you find the language used? (Associates, businesses, etc)
    3. Did the rules make sense? Were there any trouble/confusion areas?
    4. Did you as the player feel like you had control? That you would win/lose based on your choices?
    5. Did you find that you learn strategies and ways to improve the way you could play the game as you played, or after playing?
    6. How would you describe the game to new players in a short and effective way?
    7. How did the combat feel? Did you want more combat? Why?
    8. What do you like about Cartel? Why?
    9. What don’t you like about Cartel? Why?
    10. Would you play again?
    11. Anything else at all?
  • Hi there

    Can I say this looks incredible, only saw this now as I am new to the forum.

    I have a monthly board game evening and will make a copy we can try for you.

    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • edited
    Thanks @pantsula! :D

    To everyone who's played Cartel (last night and previously) and everyone who will play the prototype, please please please:

    GIVE ME RUTHLESS BRUTAL CRITICISM! I really need to understand how it plays, how it feels. Right now even the language of it has been an iffy issue.


    How do I describe this game? Help!

    I'm having a really difficult time describing this game to people who's never heard of it. This is the best I've got so far, but it still feels.... not good enough.
    2 - 4 players
    Play time 30 minutes

    In the city of Neo York (placeholder name) You are the head of a gang in a criminal Cartel. Face off against other gangs by building business towers, fight for control over them by maneuvering your enforcers to control the most lucrative buildings to generate income, and pay off officials to gain advantages over your opponent. But watch out! If corruption gets out of hand, a cartel member could turn Snitch and sell the cartel out for the win!
    Your thoughts? :)
  • edited
    I gave some feedback in person after playing, but I suppose I should share some thoughts here too. I am also quite intrigued to see that the idea of combat is still something people feel quite differently about after the discussions last night.

    2. I am all for simplicity (which is a core focus of the play of this game) - the simpler the better. You don't want to use a longer and more complex word to describe simple things where possible.

    3. The rules issues I did have when playing were actually already clarified, and your video highlights it perfectly (it was the Top and Ground scoring which I didn't understand) - so apart from the idea that combat doesn't feel quite right the rest seems find rules wise.

    4 & 5. Tackling these two points as one for now: While I felt I had control as a player I didn't find I thought about strategy after a game (not that it was a bad thing) - each game I played it was easy to think on my feet and work out what was best to do at the time in the game as I played. The game is well suited for quick playthroughs - it isn't like Agricola where for weeks after playing a game you rethink every thing you played, this comes across as a more casual competitive game.

    10. Yes.

    6. An empire building card game that is quick to learn and play.

    I still need to think more about some of the other points and some of the "problems" (problem is the wrong word in this case though) that seem to require solving. Will )hopefully) post more at a later stage.

    Edit: brutal response: the combat still seems gimpy - so describing it as battling for control of towers doesn't quite make sense to me.

    Edit 2: "sell out the cartel out" :P
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • edited
    Something from your video 7:58 You say "they all count for points", but in context it looks like you're saying "because they're all next to other double downs they all count 4 points", i.e. 12 points in total.

    In the second scoring example you can also explain how you got to 3 points.

    In your third scoring example, you don't finish working out the score total. You get to 5 for the special card but don't show that the building is worth 6 (or more because you don't indicate how many associates the player has).

    I had to watch the video a couple of times to understand the scoring.
  • Double Downs are worth 3 points if they are next to another Double Down. Where did you get 4 points from? Did I say 4 points? Is the name "Double Down" confusing the matter? Did you think that the points would double?

    Yeah that was a bit sloppy, definitely something to improve on! :) I think I need to write a script for my next attempt at a how-to video for Cartel. This one I'm not putting anywhere but here.
  • What is the design point of the snitch? It seems it serves 3 purposes; a) screw over players, b) for major points and c) to end the game.

    The problem I have with this are points b) and c) as it puts the power to end the game in a single, random, player's hand who wants the game to end quickly; while the other players are trying to extend the game as long as possible and deters them from using their cards.

    If I can make a suggestion, change the snitch so that it doesn't end the game, and instead of awarding points it allows the activating player to remove the snitch and one other associate card from play. Then continue the game until the end of the 2nd deal of cards. Keep the requirement that the snitch can only be played once all the associates are out.

    This maintains the snitch's "screw over" ability while not making it: so powerful by ending the game; upsetting the balance of points; and preventing players from playing their own associates.
  • edited
    Edit: Re-reading, it feels like this post could come across as being aggressive and defensive, it's really really not, I'm just describing my design goals and thought processes! :)

    Thanks for the feedback! :D

    How many times have you played Cartel? I ask because I feel that knowing the rules don't convey the actual gameplay! :) (which isn't essentially the player's fault, it's more my fault)

    The design point of the snitch:

    1. To add an element of risk to Pocket cards - I wanted the pocket cards to be powerful, but risky. The more pocket cards are out the more risk to fail the next pocket card played adds. It's entirely possible to stop the snitch from coming out by not playing out one or two pocket cards, in which case holding the Snitch means nothing. But there are options for the Snitch to fish out more pocket cards.

    2. To add depth to the game - The win/loss by the snitch is very unobvious but very powerful to a new player. New players who will just play pocket cards out willy nilly without concern for the snitch, and when they get hammered by it, it'll hurt. Some people will recognise the risk of the pocket cards for future games, some people won't. I think letting people learn that is a great thing.

    3. To enable big, satisfying plays - I've had games when I was super behind on the board, but through some careful planning I was *almost* able to steal a game from the leader with the Snitch - it involved something like getting an extra action from Efficiency Consulting, then stealing the Congressman with Sven, and then shooting for the last Pocket card from someone's hand then dropping the Snitch. If it worked out it would have been beautiful, and obviously very difficult, which is satisfying.

    4. To short-circuit the game clock - add surprise - right now the game ends in a very predictable fashion. Everyone knows when the deck's gonna run out and everyone knows who might be dropping the last associate. I wanted the game to be able to end on a dime if someone plans for it. Even if the Snitch is in the trash it could be fished out. There are ways and means.

    5. To drive people to play for a game close rather than And that sneaky "hidden clock" is the thing that may drive players to go for gambits instead of building safe fortresses.

    Your suggestion is a bit strange to me - are you saying that all the effort of forcing seven pocket cards out onto the table and hanging onto that Snitch card should only result in one successful attack? Removing one associate from play isn't big at all. There's no need to play around the Snitch in that case, right? I WANT players to play around the snitch. Maybe this game should be called Snitch. Except there's already a recent game by that name :/

    So right now, the observation I've collected on the snitch through playtests has basically been:

    The points swing is too big - I'll probably change the worth and design of it. Maybe it's not worth very little but switches all the pocket cards to your control (effectively meaning a 12 point swing if you had zero pocket cards on your side, but less and less the more pocket cards you played out yourself)
  • I'll have to play it then, I'm only going by assumptions from the video, hence I asked what are your design intentions.
  • Love the concept art with the anime feel.

    Can't wait to give it a bash. Ran a play through with myself quickly, some initial thoughts, which will probably change after a real game:

    1. Love the setting and how it ties the gameplay elements, the terms are also perfect for a cartel trying to sound legit.
    2. Can or can't you build a building on a roads end to form a dead end ?
    3. Can't comment on strategies and combat yet, but struggling to see how you can take over a building.

    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • pantsula said:
    Love the concept art with the anime feel.

    Can't wait to give it a bash. Ran a play through with myself quickly, some initial thoughts, which will probably change after a real game:

    1. Love the setting and how it ties the gameplay elements, the terms are also perfect for a cartel trying to sound legit.
    2. Can or can't you build a building on a roads end to form a dead end ?
    3. Can't comment on strategies and combat yet, but struggling to see how you can take over a building.

    Thank you good sir! :D

    1. Anime feel? Do you mean the fleshed-out designs on top there? :) I'll say I haven't nailed down a style yet, so it's still all up in the air :)

    2. No you can't - that's not very clear at the moment from the rules, that needs clearing up. The next version will have roads with sidewalks to make it clearer.

    However you *can* place roads that go into a building if it at least lead out from an existing road.

    3. Under current rules, you can take over a building in a couple of ways, the basic rule is to end a move with more units than the opponent. This does mean that usually, if you have two Associates in a building, it's secure, as the most moves one can make is two actions in a turn. HOWEVER. There are strategies and cards that can change that paradigm - which I'll leave for you to discover in the cardset.
  • Subtle rule change experiment!

    I haven't updated the PDF file with this yet because it's just this one thing, but I'm proposing one small change to the rules that seems to significantly change the combat in the game:

    When taking a move action, you may move AS MANY ASSOCIATES from the SAME SPACE as you want at a time, as a unit. (Instead of moving just one Associate at a time)

    The other movement rules still apply, the group may still move through other units of yours for free in the same move (without picking up any other Associates during the movement).

    This opens up two-unit groups to be more vulnerable, though big groups are slow to move because they can only move one space at a time unless you've built a "highway" with your Associates.

    If you have a chance to playtest, please try out this rule change and let me know how it feels! :)

    Thanks guys!
  • Hey there

    So we gave it a go last night. here's some feedback.

    4 players. Regular board gamers.

    - Everyone picket up the basic rules quickly.
    - They got a bit confused with the pocket cards, thinking they count when held in your hand(thinking your hand is your pocket).
    - We played through the bankroll twice to end the game but didn't get many associates out.
    - They felt there needs to be a bit more to combat, but nobody though adding dice would help, keeping it essentially just the cards

    Hope it helps
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • Thanks @pantsula!

    The combat thing is a consensus among many people. Did you play with the combat rules in the current ruleset or did you manage to test with the new suggested combat rules? (two posts above, so you can move more than one unit at a time)

    The pocket cards - yes I realised that its naming had been a source of confusion. I'll probably change them to something less "clever" XD

    Thanks! :D
  • Hi all!

    Sorry for the radio silence on Cartel, it's been a busy time for me, but this is getting pretty close in terms of balance, I think. This update was focused largely on details and getting things to be easier to understand, both from the documentation and presentation point of view. It doesn't sound like much but damn, it took a long time to update everything in this way...!!

    Download Cartel v0.7 print and play files:

    v0.7 update - 15 July

    Presentation Changes:

    1. Did a pile of changes to the documentation, simplified text.

    2. Added icons! I'm not entirely sure if this was a good option but it's a try - let me know what you think, if it's easier to understand everything or not.


    3. Added sidewalks to the roads.


    4. Terminology change -
    Associates are now Agents
    Pocket are now Officials

    Gameplay changes:

    4. The Snitch is now no longer worth 21 points - BUT it does end the game AND give you all the officials - so it's still a significant point swing IF you had no officials to start with.

    5. Ending the game is now immediate - it simplifies the play a lot, and I'm not too bothered by balance issues, as it takes some skill in tracking a game that's about to end and playing for the endgame.

    6. When you have Fivel, you must pay two cards to win combat.


    7. Reworded Sneaky Sven, see if it's easier to understand?

    8. Congressman Tu now has the added benefit of denying the oponent's Official's effect if you get them to play a When Played Official.

    9. Agents can now move in a group - so the combat is less deterministic. Please let me know how you feel this plays!


    Thanks guys! Please enjoy! :D

    Download Cartel v0.7 print and play files:
  • edited
    @Tuism This looks really cool. I've made a boardgame for my girlfriend for her birthday (it was 3 months late :D ), it was hard work but super rewarding. Unfortunately I didn't get to play test it much, so we had to tweak some of the official rules as we went along. I had it manufactured here: You should check it out. It's really cool. You can design your board and cards, and choose pieces all for free. You can order yourself a prototype then (which will cost you), but you can sell your game on their online store and they handle everything. The games are slightly more expensive because it is manufacture on demand, but it's not ridiculously expensive. And the manfacturing quality is superb. I was really impressed with what I got.

    PS. I'd like to play this. I guess I won't find anyone soon though. Crunch time for masters engineering :/
  • Aw, that's a super cute story! :D

    Playtesting is super important, boardgamegeek is a great resource for talking about boardgames. I've been getting some feedback there (, so that's pretty cool :)

    As for publishing, I'm not gonna lie I don't know if it's viable :P I won't even go into visuals yet until I'm sure the gameplay is worth throwing more design/art time into, and on that end, well, I'm still seeing if it's a good idea.

    I'm going to enter this into a design contest on BGG ( which is closing at the end of this month, so I'm trying to get as much settled as possible design-wise. The criteria is games under 60 minutes, which Cartel does fit :)

    Yeah I've looked at various options, thegamecrafter is one of the good ones, there are others too, can't remember many of them offhand... Drivethru Cards: . There's a guy called Daniel Solis ( who does it for a hobby but he's made and am selling many games on Drivethru, he's pretty awesome :)
  • A quick but significant update:

    A while ago I entered Cartel into the annual Korean Board Game Design Contest, and I just heard that it has made it into the shortlist of finalists out of 124 submissions world wide! :D

    Link to the thread on Boardgamegeek:

    WOOOO! :D

    Then, Cartel is also going to be showing at A MAZE!! :D

    So that means two things - I'm gonna have to draw a line in the sand and create a couple of "good" prototype soon as A) that's what I'll be showing at AMAZE, and B) I need to send a prototype to Korea!

  • So... There's this idea I've been kicking around in my head. I know I keep saying DON'T DO ART UNTIL THE GAME IS READY FOR IT and DON'T WASTE TIME ON STUFF THAT'S POSSIBLY GOING TO GO NOWHERE BECAUSE PUBLISHERS DON'T BUY ART blah blah...

    But I'm only human and I felt like doing something fun :P

    So I took like an hour today and made this:


    The idea I've been kicking around in my head is Piston City. A Steampunk Noir setting where crime isn't only bad, it's dirty. Where government regulate the "air" you breath, where steam vents can be, and how tall your umbrella can go. But all rules are more often broken than enforced, and steam-powered automatons run half the city's businesses and amenities. Or do they?

    In this vision of Cartel, criminal rackets build legitimate businesses so they can acquire steam automatas legally (regulations require a registered business, along with site-inspections, for an automata to be issued), then put them to more nefarious uses, like territorial battle among rival Cartel gangs.

    So the idea is that I can take Piston city and stick multiple titles under its umbrella, and make a bit of a cool running story type thing around it.

    What do you think?

    1. Should I not bother with it cos I can't dictate what publishers - if I ever get that far - do with a game?

    2. How do I name the buggers? I *would* like to start names with the game title itself, so like Cartel of Piston City... Or Cartel in Piston City... Cartel: Piston City... That sounds retarded. Right now Piston City Cartel sounds the least wonky... But again yea,h I wanna start with the game title :P

    3. How's the art look? Does the art and the story line up? :)
    1078 x 1200 - 300K
  • Maybe I'll remember to come back to this tomorrow when it is not 2 AM in the morning. But so far, the overall impression is, I like it. Maybe your art has seduced me though in these late hours :)
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • Thanks man! Much appreciated :)

    Man it's hard to get feedback on physical games, even when I'm talking about art and theme :/
  • Had a compact game of Cartel, which kinda came about due to the rule change about combat (ability to move in groups).

    So another rule change - you draw as many cards as all the floors in your buildings tied for tallest. (so you could draw off a bunch of lower buildings instead of just always one tall one.

    This is intended to encourage:
    1) More movement
    2) Desire to go wider instead of taller

    Latest PNP here: (though the cards didn't change, only the rulebook)
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