Wyoming man Kevin Schiel creates tabletop game, receives consortium award
WILKES-BARRE — Kevin Schiel’s tabletop card game was created at the intersection of intellect and interest.
The 28-year-old Wyoming man fashioned Planets as a culminating project in his senior integrative media class at Wilkes University, and the game won him the College Tabletop Award at the Pennsylvania Consortium on Video Games in Harrisburg.
Schiel said the end of his Projects II course was focused on portfolio building and that he had already designed a healthy array of websites, videos and logos.
“I had a broad spectrum of that in my portfolio, so I wanted to do something off the wall,” Schiel said.
When it came to designing a card game, Schiel considered his experiences with other tabletop games, which he enjoyed but found expensive to maintain.
“I was always a fan of games like Magic: The Gathering,” Schiel said. “Those were games that you had to spend $200 a deck on.”
Schiel said the complicated and ever-evolving set of rules in Magic was another deterrent.
“I could never keep up with the rules, because I’m more of a casual player,” Schiel said.
The designer then went about creating something that would appeal to both avid players and casual fans. For a theme, he chose a setting of personal interest.
“I like shows like ‘Futurama,’ and I watched ‘Cosmos,’ so that’s where I came up with a space card game,” Schiel said.
A hallmark of the game, Schiel said, is that players draw from a single deck instead of bringing their own personalized decks to a playing session.
“It makes it a level playing field for everyone,” Schiel said. “Instead of being a trading card game, it’s more of a strategy game.”
Each player, Schiel explained, is dealt four cards and must draw two cards at the beginning of each turn. Three types of cards — planet, action and unit cards — dictate gaming activity.
Three types of alien species correspond with action cards, which allow players to attack and defend planets. A player must successfully defend a planet to take it, and once a player collects six planets, the game is over.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people who play this game are not just nerdy, hardcore tabletop players and also aren’t super casual players,” Schiel said. “They are somewhere in between.”
Schiel said he’s been getting good feedback from experienced tabletop players, but the format isn’t deterring new players from trying Planets.
He found out about the consortium from his Projects II professor, Eric Ruggiero.
“It was advantageous for me to meet some people in the industry and play-test my game,” Schiel said.
Schiel came home with more than award hardware.
“I got valuable information from industry professionals,” Schiel said. “We play-tested and saw who reacted to it and who didn’t from a marketing and revision standpoint.”
Schiel, who was also recently recognized by the American Advertising Federation for an animated infographic he made for Pfizer, said he is currently making revisions to Planets and devising a strategy to get the game to more people.
“I have a website, and up on that we have an order form,” Schiel said. “We don’t want money yet; we just want a heads up on how many we’ll have to make. We have a printer behind us. Once we get our capital behind that, we’ll get our inventory up.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.