Piecepack Contest #9: The Iron Piecepack Designer ENTRY DEADLINE EXTENDED

Due to worldwide circumstances that make it hard for designers and judges to test games, the deadline for the contest is extended until a time when people could reasonably expect to have access to the people and materials they need to make and test piecepack games. When there is a general consensus on when that will be, we will announce it here and elsewhere. Till then, stay safe and keep developing cool ideas!

Meanwhile, for some ingenious ways to playtest your game, see Playing and playtesting during pandemics, and don't forget to add a link on the Iron Piecepack Designer Playtest Page, where piecepackers will playtest your game for free!


Welcome to Kitchen Table Stadium: an arena built into every home where games aren’t just played - they’re made. The motivation for creating Kitchen Table Stadium is to encounter new games that can be considered true artistic creations…

In this imaginary game show (lovingly yoinked from Japan’s culinary TV sensation The Iron Chef), the world’s boldest game creators go head-to-head as they create games that use challenging “ingredients” to pair with the creative urges of their own piecepack gaming palates. Each episode provides a different challenge that designers can choose to sink their teeth into:

The winner of each episode moves on to the Season Finale Showdown, where games from different backgrounds will be judged to determine the Iron Piecepack Champion. The winner receives Everlasting Glory throughout the piecepack community and the world, and the right to wear a piecepack-emblazoned chef’s hat anywhere they go.

Also, for those who want to be truly TV-famous, scroll down and check out the Piecepack Demonstration Video Side Contest and show the world how to play your favorite piecepack game!

How the Contest Works

A Few More Rules

How To Enter

Submit a PDF of your rules to the judge(s) of your chosen episode:

Deadline for submissions: July 15th, 2020 by 11:59 PM in any time zone on Earth

Make sure to include the following at the beginning of your PDF:

Episode 1: The Iron Chef

Celebrity judge: Chris Goodwin, award-winning designer of Tingle for the Where No One has Gamed Before contest

Challenge: Interpret "Iron Chef" in some way. Yes, the term "Iron Chef" is itself a possible ingredient! This could relate to the theme of the game (which could play out as an Iron Chef type competition), the mechanics (a game in which players choose "ingredients" from a pool in order to create combinations), or even the components. Or the designer could bring in terms from cooking: "courses" (as in parts of a meal, or as in a playing area (e.g. a golf course), or as in a path to be taken (a race course)); "plating" (as in placing pieces on a tile); "mixing" (components face down, in a bag, or otherwise); "recipes" (lists of pieces and a method for combining them).

What We're Looking for in Episode 1:

Episode 2: Piecepack Matchsticks

Celebrity Judge: Dan Burkey, award-winning inventor of the piecepack matchsticks expansion for the Where No One has Gamed Before contest

Challenge: Design a game that incorporates the piecepack matchsticks in a way that shows off their unique possibilities and makes players want to build their own set.

What We're Looking For in Episode 2:

Episode 3: Expand!

Celebrity Judges: Chris Goodwin and Dan Burkey- Each judge will select the champion that he feels best meets the criteria of the challenge. Yes, there could be two finalists from this episode!

Challenge: Find a way to connect with the open-ended theme of “expansion.” Expansion could represent a game themed around expansion (such as the expansion of territory, the universe, populations, or waistlines), or it could represent an expansion set (either an existing expansion, or one created for the contest), or it could represent mechanics involving expansion (where expanding the playing surface is a move in the game, or a result of a move, or an object of the game). Or even expanding the playing area so the judges can play together from two different cities across the country from each other.

What We're Looking For in Episode 3:

Season Finale Showdown!

The three games that win each episode will be judged against each other based on additional criteria. And the Iron Chef Toque will be awarded to the overall winner.


Design Hints

In all the episodes, we will be looking for the hallmarks of good general game design, including:

Judge Chris's profile and taste notes: I like games that are easy to set up and tear down. I like games that are easy to learn but difficult to master. I see inherently themeless game systems such as the Piecepack and Looney Pyramids lending themselves to lightly-themed or themeless abstract games. Alien City is a good example of lightly-themed, to me. I like simple setups that result in really neat emergent behavior (such as with cellular automatons). I also like modular board/terrain placement type games (such as Catan, Zarcana/Gnostica/Zark City, etc.), unique player or color powers (but recognize that those are hard to do without a reference sheet), and good balance between strategy and randomness, or leaning toward strategy.

Judge Dan's profile and taste notes: I created the piecepack matchsticks to inspire new spatial and geometric possibilities for the piecepack. They also have great potential as resource tokens or other markers. See the description of the PiecepackMatchsticks for some ideas that inspired the design of the expansion. I enjoy games with a strong spatial component (Labyrinth, Ticket to Ride, Betrayal at House on the Hill). I have also been interested in cooperative games lately (Betrayal, Pandemic, Forbidden Island/Desert), and I've noticed there don’t seem to be many for the piecepack. That said, I also enjoy surprises and lateral thinking. I like rulesets with illustrations, and I think other people do too.


Each game will be ranked according to each of the criteria of its episode. The rank will be converted into a numerical score for each criterion: 1= Best, 2=second best, etc. Each game will get 5 scores- one for each criterion. Scores will be added for each game, and the lowest total score will be declared champion for that episode. Champions will move on to the Season Finale Showdown.

The Season Finale Showdown will be judged based on the separate Season Finale criteria. Both judges’ scores on these criteria will be added for each game to generate the final total score.

Note: Episode 3 may expand the contest by creating 2 finalists- one selected independently by each judge. It is also possible that both judges will select the same game to pass on to the final showdown, but they will make their selections independently.

In the event of a tie, the game that received a better score for the criterion at the top of the list will be declared the winner.


Side Contest: Best Piecepack Demonstration Video

When I’m learning to play a new game, or deciding whether I want to put in the time and money to buy and learn a new game, I usually search for videos of how it’s played. Did you know that if you search for “piecepack game demo” on Youtube, you only get 4 videos that are actually piecepack-related, and none of them focuses on teaching people to play piecepack games? The piecepack is a 21st-century game system, and videos are the fastest way to show a lot of people how to play a game. If we want to expand the possibilities of the piecepack, we need to reach people in the medium that gets their attention the best. With this side contest, let's show the world how to use the piecepack!

Some examples of needs in the piecepack community:

To Enter the Video Side Contest

Upload a video to Youtube that teaches viewers to play a piecepack game. Title your video “Piecepack Game Demo: [title of game]” for easy identification, and include the phrase “Iron Piecepack Designer Contest” somewhere in the video description. Email the link to your video to Dan Burkey at by July 15th, 2020 at 11:59 PM in any time zone on Earth.

Video Contest Specifications

Include the following in the video description, for the benefit of viewers:

Please do not use copyrighted music or sound effects in your video- YouTube could take it down, and all your hard work would disappear! You may use royalty-free sound or music you create yourself if you wish.

This contest will not have a bearing on the judgment of games for the main contest. You are welcome to submit a video of your own game, but the game will be judged separately on its own merits.

If two videos demonstrate the same game, each video will be judged by the criteria- no harm in seeing multiple people play a cool game!

See the Video Production Tips below for some advice on how to make your video stand out!

Video Judging Criteria (from most to least weight)

Video Production Tips


The Entries So Far

See Iron Piecepack Designer Playtest Page