designer's notes

An Introduction to Tabletop Game Design: Watch It Now!

An Introduction to Tabletop Game Design: Watch It Now!

When we set up Needy Cat we knew we were going to be designing tabletop games, but we really wanted to do more. One of the things we love about analogue game design is how accessible it is; if you like games, and you want to design one... well, there's not much stopping you. It's not like designing a computer game, where there's a minimum level of technical know-how required, or many other hobbies where you have to spend ages figuring out what you're doing before it starts to feel satisfying. Point is, all it takes to design a tabletop game is the will to do it and, as a minimum, a few scraps of paper.

Hellboy: The Board Game Wave One Breakdown

Hellboy: The Board Game Wave One Breakdown

It’s an exciting time here in Needy Catville. We’re working on some incredibly exciting things behind the scenes. We’ve got a couple of new games coming out soon that should be announced over the next couple of months. We’ve recently launched our three-part series, An Introduction to Game Design, where we’re inviting people to join us here in Nottingham and learn all about how to design their own board games. We’ve hit $50 a month on our Patreon, so it looks like we’re going to be launching a podcast! Oh, and here’s a big one - Hellboy: the Board Game has started shipping!

Announcing An Introduction to Game Design

Afternoon, all! We’ve got something exciting to share with you today.

Have you ever wanted to design your own tabletop game? Got a great idea for a board game, but haven’t got a clue how to go about making one? Have you designed their first game, but can’t figure out why it isn’t working like you want it to? Do you just want to know more about how we design games?

Over the past eighteen months we’ve had countless questions, emails and Facebook messages along these lines. After a lot of deliberation behind the scenes, we’ve decided it was time we put our knowledge into practice!

And so, we’re happy to present Needy Cat Games: An Introduction to Tabletop Game Design. This is a series of three one-day courses, based here in Nottingham, aimed at taking you through the key stages of designing your own tabletop game.

We’ve been working on this for a while now, and we’re really excited that it’s finally happening!

If you want to skip the details and get your tickets, head to our shiny new Courses page!

The individual courses are detailed below. You can attend all three if you want us to guide you through the whole design journey, or just come along to the ones that are most useful to you. Tickets are very limited, though, so book early to avoid missing out!

What You Get

Each course involves a full day with both Sophie and James. (If you’re not a regular visitor to our site, we’re the game designers behind games such as Hellboy: The Board Game, Ancient Grudges: Bonefields, Blitz Bowl, Adeptus Titanicus and several others that we can’t announce yet!)

The courses are broken down as follows:

  • A morning of game design theory, presented in a fun, informative and interactive fashion.

  • A slap-up lunch, as well as hot and cold drinks, biscuits and snacks throughout the day.

  • An afternoon of workshops and exercises.

  • A take-home game design pack themed around that day’s course, featuring things like blank components, templates, printouts, reading lists and other freebies.

  • PLUS you can join us after the course for an informal drink – and maybe a board game or two!

We’re keeping the courses intentionally small, with a maximum of twelve attendees per day, so there will be plenty of time to engage with us directly and ask us any questions you have.

The Courses


Course 1 will cover subjects such as:

  • The first steps to designing a board game.

  • Effective research.

  • Refining your ideas.

  • Early-stage prototyping and testing.

  • Common pitfalls to avoid.

During the day we will help you come up with an interesting concept for a game and create a “test build”, which you will then develop as the day goes on. We’ll provide everything you need.


Course 2 will cover subjects such as:

  • The stages of game development.

  • Internal vs external playtesting.

  • The importance of feedback.

  • Establishing a playtesting group.

  • How to iterate your design.

For this course, we ask attendees to bring a game they have designed. Don’t worry about bringing something perfect! During the day we will give you the chance to test and develop your game with our assistance.


Course 3 will cover subjects such as:

  • Drafting a manuscript.

  • The imporetance of editting.

  • Working with freelancers.

  • Self-publish or sell to a publisher?

  • Promoting your game.

For this course, attendees are invited to bring their own game, but this is not mandatory. During the day you will have the chance to polish your design, and also spend one-on-one clinic time with Sophie and James.

The Details

The courses are priced at £95 per person per course. If you want to buy tickets, click this button!

Attendees must be aged 18+.

If you cannot attend a course that you have paid for, we will only be able to issue a refund if you let us know at least five working days before the start of the course.

Want It All?


If you’d like to come to all three, we’re offering an early bird bundle price of £250 for all three courses until the end of the month. That’s better than 10% off, as a thank-you for getting in early and helping us with the setup costs!

We can’t wait to run these courses - we think they’re going to be something really special. We hope to see you there!

Design Diary: Finishing Touches

Design Diary: Finishing Touches

Hellboy: The Board Game has been in solid development for around seven months now, and it feels like even longer than that. It's lasted over half of Needy Cat Games' lifespan! (Oh, we had our first birthday last week - I meant to do a blog post about it, but we've been too busy...) There's still loads more Hellboy in the pipeline, but I'm proud to say that the rulebook for the main game is about to go into layout…

Design Diary: More Than Punching

Design Diary: More Than Punching

One of the things that's been most hotly discussed is narrative - some people are concerned that the game just doesn't have enough story poking through the mechanics. I absolutely understand why they're concerned - after all, it's Hellboy! If the narrative isn't front and centre, we're wasting our opportunity. The stories are about as far from generic dungeon-crawling as you can get… 

Hellboy Week: Fun with Budgets (Honest)

Hellboy Week: Fun with Budgets (Honest)

One of the benefits of the B.P.R.D. being a well-funded shadowy government organisation is that the gang are rarely short on resources – the flipside, of course, is that you have to stay within parameters. This is represented by the Mission Budget, which the players can spend before the Case. This budget scales depending on the number of agents, and is one of the ways in which the game scales for different player counts.

Design Diary: Echoes of the Past

Design Diary: Echoes of the Past

With Hellboy: The Board Game hitting Kickstarter on Wednesday, I've really been enjoying the response to the snippets of information we've been releasing. People seem to be getting pretty excited about the game, and I couldn't be happier - after all, this is the first project I've done for Needy Cat to see the light of day! I've had a few questions, and I felt that this one in particular deserved a more in-depth answer: 

Hellboy Week: The Deck of Doom

Hellboy Week: The Deck of Doom

Yesterday, the lovely Rob did a great job of explaining how the HQ board works, and what its various bits are for. One of these was the Impending Doom track, which acts as a kind of timer, ticking down turn by turn until it launches the Confrontation, regardless of whether you're ready for it. A shrewd group of players will investigate their hearts out and uncover the big boss before this happens, but through playtesting I've seen countless cases where the agents took their sweet time, thinking they had ages before things took a turn for the worse.