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Battle Pencils | Trading Pencil Game

This will be my personal blog for all thing Battle Pencils, including my experience with The Pitch Project 2020. This publisher event has finally forced me to create a sell sheet for my game. In other blog entries, I will discuss my game's full battle system, why I designed the pencil layout the way I did, suggested set release schedule, etc.

Here is my most current sell sheet submitted to The Pitch Project:

Comments

This looks great! I hope you

This looks great! I hope you get some exposure for it.

Maybe a Minor Edit

Not saying this is necessary, just a psychological trick. Where it states "...if that player doesn't have any remaining pencils, they lose the game." ends in a negative. Okay for the rules, but since you're trying to market it, probably better to give a positive. Something like "...if that player doesn't have any remaining pencils, the other player Wins!"

Just thinking out loud.

Thanks. And that is a good

Thanks.

And that is a good point. Will change for the next version.

Maybe This...

"If your opponent has run out of pencils, you win!!!"

Personally...

I think it would be best to play like 5 rounds and the first winner to 3 wins.

WHY??? Because if both players have like 40 pencils the battles can go for very long. While I agree if you are in the business of selling pencils that may be good... But from a Game POV, it's always best to have a peak at the right moment (not too long and not too short). If it's too LONG the players will get BORED and if it's too SHORT people may get the impression that the game is too SIMPLE. In either case, the players would move on to ANOTHER game.

Again: "The first player to win 3 out of 5 rounds is Victorious".

Something along those lines... And instead of 45 ... Make it sold in packs of three (3). And offer them at a PREMIUM price point. Maybe like $5.00 each pack. I mean it's ONLY three (3) pencils...

Goodluck with this Game @Gregg...

Yes it’s a set of 45 pencils

Yes, it’s a set of 45 pencils distributed across 15 packs of 3 pencils (circle/triangle/square). Players can play with any number of pencils. As low as 1, but 3 or 5 seems to be the most common choices from blind playtesting.

Updated rules

I updated the sell sheet rules (in OP) to sound a little more informal with a mix of 2nd person perspective.

I also think I fixed the losing pencil's wording to not sound too harsh or redundant with the "end of game" sentence:

"If your pencil loses the battle, remove it from play and pick one of your remaining pencils to use for the next battle. If you’ve run out of pencils, you’re knocked out!

Keep battling until one of you knocks out the other player and wins the game!"

Peripheral Product Idea

A peripheral product idea for Battle Pencils would be standard college-ruled writing paper notebooks adorned with Battle Pencil mascots on the cover, and small battle numbers (and in later sets, symbols too) printed along the left margin of each sheet of paper.

You can play Battle Pencils anywhere, but you have the option to roll your pencils on a sheet of Battle Paper for chances at bonus power and abilities!

How it Works
Bother players roll their pencils on the paper at the same time.

If the end of your pencil that is closest to the left margin stops in between the same lines as an unmarked bonus number, cross out that bonus number and add it to your rolled number!

DIDNT MAKE TOP 50

I did not make the top 50 for The Pitch Project, so I won't be pitching this idea to the publishers of that event.

We'll see where I go from here.

I have updated the sell sheet

I have updated the sell sheet with crude images (I'm looking for an artist to update the sketches).

I am considering changing the current generic game name to PENAGERIE (pencils + menagerie) since you're collecting and battling pencils with characters on them. Thoughts?

Feedback

I absolutely love the addition of the "sketch" style drawings. They definitely fit in with the school-student vibe/theme and audience.

I'm not fond of the font choice for most of it, though. It seems alright on the sticky-note in the bottom left corner, but for whatever reason I don't like it on the ruled-paper background. It seems like a lot of text packed into a small space, making it harder to read.

As for the name Penagerie, do you think that would still work if you were able to go for some licensing deals with these? Personally I thought the name "Battle Pencils" worked well enough: it describes "what it is and what it does." Not sure if you need to go as far-out as your proposed title.

At first I thought ...

Oh no ... He wants to change the NAME!!! And then I was like... "Hmm... Maybe 'Battle Pencils' isn't the best of name...?"

Something came to mind. Your are "DUELLING"... So maybe "ANIMAL DUELS"???

Or checking on Thesaurus.com ... I came up with a couple interesting alternatives for "DUEL":

1. "Clash"

2. "War"

3. "Brawl"

Doing the same exercise for "ANIMAL" I came up with these:

A> "Beastly"

B> "Savage"

C> "Critters"

D> "Cattle"

Putting those together I get:

#99: "Savage Wars"

#98: "Beastly Clash"

#97: "Beastie Brawl"

And the winner is... ??? Given some synonyms and my own "thinking" ... That what I got! More below too following further reflection. Cheers.

#96: "Critter Clash"

I like kids code: "Are we going to 'Clash' tomorrow?!"

#95: "Savage Critters"

(Those are some that have just pop-ed into my mind...)

#94: "Carbon Duels"

A little more esoteric ... Graphite is a form of "Carbon".

#93: "Cattle Duels"

Maybe more "farmish"/Animal like...

#92: "Cattle Battle"

It's rhyme time! lol If others come time mind... "LEAD" as in Pencil Leads came to mind... But nothing as of yet (in terms of names...)

#91: "Cattle Draft"

This one is a bit "heady". Yes "cattle" = animals. But Draft could be like you are "drafting" something (using a pencil)...

#90: "Scribble Wars"

#89: "Battle Scribes"

As in "to transcribe" or people who write (eg. Scribes).

#88: "Animal Scribes"

I think this version is more understandable (animal vs. battle).

#87: "Ranch Wars"

#86: "Wrangler ???"

I like the term ... But have no clue what to pair it with...

#85: "Gaucho Marks"

This is a strong play on words... A Gaucho is like a Cowboy or herder and Marks ... Well the pencils make "Marks"!

#84: "Cattleman Wars"

Herding is the key... Maybe an abbreviated version: "Cattle Wars"...

#83: "Safari Duels"

This one is really original. Like animals like Giraffe or Lions are pretty good too.

#82: "Safari Wars"

This is a variant ... Instead of DUELS, I opted for Wars.

#81: "Safari Battles"

Another variant.

#80: "Zoo Keepers"

I like this one too... I don't have any variant ... But the NAME is one of my better suggestions.

Choice #1: I personally like "Critter Clash", "Safari Wars" and "Zoo Keepers" the best... So far those TBH are my best picks.

Expandability

I notice that a lot of questccg's suggested titles are connected to animals. But they aren't the only things that battle or compete.

Going in a different direction - perhaps one that can cater to a broader sense of licenses beyond animals and Pokemon-style creature combat...

  • Write Wars
  • Writer Fighters
  • Class Contest
  • Class Clash
  • WriTournament (this one's a stretch...)
  • Write Fight
  • Pencil Punchers
  • Pencil Powers
  • Draw Duel / Drawin' Duel / Draw n' Duel

The idea that this is a pencil that students will want to have anyway is a strength of this. I'd discourage you from linking it just to animals, because there are plenty of other types of opposing forces.

EDIT: as an aside, I typically stay away from words that could be easily-replaced by an insult or curse word. So maybe anything with the word "Class" should be replaced with something else...?

So sad... I really thought it was both a SIMPLE and FUN idea!

JewellGames wrote:
I did not make the top 50 for The Pitch Project, so I won't be pitching this idea to the publishers of that event.

We'll see where I go from here.

I don't know what their criteria was for "qualifying". But I thought that this game deserved a CHANCE. It's so "elegant" and "simple" ... It uses a tool that kids use in school every day. So why not during a break ... The kids break-out some pencils and "Battle" a couple rounds!

This reminds me a lot about "Tradewars" (before "TradeWorlds"). I sold about $800 USD worth of stock (I believe 30+ games) ... And then nothing more. It took me discussing with my Developer at that time (Joseph Pilkus III @The Professor) that he could maybe approach the designers of "Tau Ceti". Mike immediately took an interest and we were off-to-the-races.

Don't give up on this IDEA. You need to find the RIGHT person for this. A mom on the PTA board or a local fair in your neck-of-the-woods in LATE August (before school starts in September)...

let-off studios wrote:
...Going in a different direction - perhaps one that can cater to a broader sense of licenses beyond animals and Pokemon-style creature combat...

I agree ... This is a good direction too. "Battle Pencils" works in that vein... I would keep the name TBH.

Note #1: I don't know if you have a local Fair nearby during the pre-school months (August and September) ... I know of a mom who would sell "school supplies" at the local fair. She's quite the "hustler" and she used to make reasonable money doing so. Unfortunately I have lost touch with her and her family.

But knowing this... Could maybe interest KIDS at a fair (because usually there is not much for kids at fairs)... A Kiosk of Battle Pencils could maybe cost you a little and you could sell to KIDS. Maybe make one SET and sell 3 pencils for $2.00 USD. Pencils (standard ones) sell for $0.10 USD each... something affordable for the KIDS. It's still a BIG markup (6x) ... But they are SPECIALIZED pencils...!

In my neck-of-the-woods the pencils would need to be BILINGUAL. So I can't really help you much.

I think ... from what I understand...

You would need some kind of Notebook to go along with the pencils. MAYBE a "binder" ... And you could have each "combatant" on an insert you put into the clear pocket at the front of the binder:

https://www.staples.com/Staples-Standard-View-1-Inch-D-3-Ring-Binder-Bla...

That binder sells for $3.99 USD. Add a "combatant/character" in the cover's VIEW (Top of binder), it would be just a glossy sheet of paper. I know copies/print-outs of pages for the insert are not that expensive in bulk.

You could have each of the three (3) "combatants/characters" from your FIRST set (of 3 combatants). So you can convince them to buy the pencils and their FAVORITE "combatant" BINDER! You could make a COMBO deal!

Just some additional thoughts!

Note #1: Sorry, I forgot about COVID-19... This may not be the best year for Fairs and Flea Markets! But keep this advice handy, soon people with their vaccinations will be outdoors more and the Fairs and Flea Markets will open again. Who knows, maybe as soon as this summer! Just some perspective...

Note #2: Also those "binders" come in a pack of twelve (12) for $42.99. So all you need to do is buy in BULK at Staples, print some character sheets on some glossy paper and assemble them yourself...

I'd say that $3.99 per solo binder at Staples, means you can probably retail your own "customized" binder for $5.00. The challenge I am having is the PENCILS. I know you said three (3) symbols so three (3) pencils.

IF you could create FIVE (5) symbols and a SET of FIVE (5) pencils... Maybe that could sell for $5.00.

Making you combo deal $10 (blinder and 5 pencils). It comes as a premium but you are getting a GAME with the pencils, there are FIVE (5) of them and the custom binder with your FAVORITE "pencil character"... I think that to some it may be a bit pricey... But it's a PREMIUM product. Some kids will absolutely WANT it!

Just some food for thought. Cheers!

Note #3: If a family has a boy and girl... $20 for two sets of pencils and each getting a customized Binder... Is pretty reasonable. If you think about it. The whole "kit-and-caboose"...

Also about the "Binders"...

You can USE them as a PLATFORM to ROLL your PENCILS! So you put the binder down on a desk or table, and then you put your PENCIL above the top cover and drop it... And then it rolls down the Binder and falls onto the table (or desk)... stopping as it reaches the surface below.

Because binders are a bit ANGLED unless they are full ... But even then usually there is an angle... Just the pencil will roll slower...

Anyways you can "show-off the gimmick" for kids to see the pencils roll down and stop on the table below revealing the "value" of your "roll"!

This gives added value to the Binder ... While any binder will do, the cool thing is to have a "Battle Pencils" "Official Binder" to suit your character.

Best!

"PENCIL ATTACK"

If you don't like "Battle Pencils", my latest suggestion would be "Pencil Attack"... It's a bit more "PUNCH-Y"... This is in @let-off studio's direction (something more generic which allows more than just animals to spar).

questccg wrote:You can USE

questccg wrote:
You can USE them as a PLATFORM to ROLL your PENCILS! So you put the binder down on a desk or table, and then you put your PENCIL above the top cover and drop it... And then it rolls down the Binder and falls onto the table (or desk)... stopping as it reaches the surface below.

Because binders are a bit ANGLED unless they are full ... But even then usually there is an angle... Just the pencil will roll slower...

Anyways you can "show-off the gimmick" for kids to see the pencils roll down and stop on the table below revealing the "value" of your "roll"!

This gives added value to the Binder ... While any binder will do, the cool thing is to have a "Battle Pencils" "Official Binder" to suit your character.

Best!

Yeah, I actually already have a Battle Notebook concept. Each sheet of paper in the notebook can be used as a battle arena. There are bonus numbers and abilities randomly placed in some of the rows of the paper's left margin. Players roll their pencils on the sheet of paper; if the pointed end of a pencil stops in the same row as one of those bonuses, the bonus is applied to the pencil's roll for that battle. The better bonuses are in the middle "contested" section of the paper (to encourage pencils to crash into one another going for the higher bonuses)

I understand what you are looking for...

To "license" the idea to someone who will DESIGN and MANUFACTURE the pencils and handle the sales. But TBH I've never been able to just take an "idea" and "sell" it... As with any "business" it requires a REAL "commitment".

I know you have other "game ideas" too... I've seen some of them as you have advertised them on BGDF.com and asked for comments/feedback and such.

But TBH, I think you would have to BRING this game to market yourself. No one is really interest in the "concept" that YOU need to PROVE! That's why I was sharing "PRACTICAL" ways of testing the market. And the way I see how to do that ... Is instead of having YET ANOTHER "custom" component... Your "notebook" concept ... Is to go with something more ACHIEVABLE like my Binder concept. It would cost $3.60 USD to buy in bulk of 12 Binders and another $0.15 to print out a gloss 8.5" x 11" cover sheet and just place it in the binder. Then the cost is $3.75 and you can sell them for $5.00 USD. You make $1.25 USD per Binder.

Now I know $1.25 USD per binder isn't great ... But it's REAL numbers. And not some imaginary "licensing deal". If it costs you $1.00 USD to make a pack of 5 custom Pencils... And again you charge $5.00 USD ... You make $4.00 USD per Pack.

If you BUNDLE the Binder + Pencils, you make $10.00 USD or $5.25 USD in PROFIT. It's over 100% markup.

Again you'll say making $5.00 USD is peanuts. But if you SELL $1000 USD on 2-day weekend at a Fair or Flea Market... That means 100 SALES in two (2) days. IDK, maybe you have OTHER things to do with your life ... And you can't commit to two (2) days during a weekend...

The bottom line ... Is that you need to BRING this concept to market YOURSELF. If you manage to make some SALES... Maybe someone ELSE might notice and THEN you MIGHT get a "licensing deal" or a Publisher which has better distribution that your SOLO efforts.

I know, I know... Some designers are just able to SELL their IDEAS to Publishers who do all the work to bring the effort to TERM. From my experience ... That's never worked for me. I need to take it from IDEA to PROTOTYPE to PRODUCT and get it in the market ... And then MAYBE see IF some Publisher might want to pick-it up and resell it. The Fair or Flea Market are REAL VENUES. It shows that you believe in your IDEA and want to COMMIT EFFORT to make it succeed. Making $5.00 USD a sale in PROFIT is not too bad... And $1000 USD over a weekend is reasonable. It pays for a months RENT and FOOD. You have 3 more weekends in a MONTH to maybe make like $4000 USD in a MONTH.

Granted some periods are better for sales than others (Just before School or During Summer Holidays) ... But let's say you sell 6 Months worth and that on average you move about $4000 USD a month. That works out to be $24,000 USD a year. Again this covers RENT and FOOD (or your mortgage) and you have the ENTIRE week to work on other things (like your websites or other games, etc.)

The point to this whole comment is that YOU need to MAKE EFFORT. Small growth and PROOF of the concept (Kids like the game or maybe just want to collect and TRADE!) You've got a lot of room to manoeuvre with.

I say 6 months because Fairs and Flea Markets are usually closed during the Winter Months. But 6 months out of the Year they are open. And with reasonable EFFORT ... You can "squeak out" some finances and have the rest of the time to figure out "What's NEXT"!

If you look at things this way. Sure it's small potatoes... Until SOMEONE NOTICES... And says, YEAH we know you've been HUSTLING and trying to get this concept out to the kids. You've got some sales and you've proved the MARKET. We'd like to go National and help spearhead the sales of your concept in the USA (for example)...

But it's going to take YOU to MAKE it a reality. NOT someone else. If you get what I mean. From my experience this is the REAL way to make a concept WORK. Start small but dream BIG. And try to make it a REALITY in some shape or form that takes the IDEA and makes actual finances from it.

I know you're still Gun-ho about the "licensing deal" and it may happen but wouldn't you rather spend like 8 days a month SELL the concept and making REAL money that goes towards your family needs ... And then work on other things the rest of the week!

Sure beats most things that I know OF... Meaning I'd rather sell pencils on weekend and see how much I can get for them. And know that I've made someone happy because they spent $10 at my booth or table-space.

Cheers and I hope you do pursue this idea... Because it's simple and elegant ... And there could be a market for it!

Look at it THIS way...

If your FIRST Year has only two (2) Product SKUs:

1. The Binders with the Custom Covers and you can have BLACK, BLUE, RED and PINK binders (for girls and boys).

2. The 5-Pack Pencils

That's YEAR #1.

In your SECOND Year you can ADD a Product SKU:

3. Arenas/Notebook Separators

And this could be like 5 different "arenas" and "subject dividers" which could probably cost $1.00 USD to make and you can SELL for $5.00 USD and make some extra money from ALL the customer who bought into the FIRST year concept ... But have come back and NOW you have something else for them!

Not to mention in Year #2 you release a NEW set of 5 Pencils to buy and use/collect. So another $5.00 USD meaning that return customers could be looking at $10.00 USD to be current with the game!

TBH this could be a real business which generates some REAL revenue.

And making it a REALITY could help PITCH the project to other players in the business. If you can keep growing the concept from YEAR to YEAR with maybe ONLY ONE (1) NEW SKU per year... You've got a growing business with the possibility of re-occurring sales.

Cheers Gregg (@JewellGames) ... Just offering your some perspective.

Also ...

In Year #2 ... You can make up to $20 USD in terms of sales for those who want to "buy-into" the concept.

1. $10.00 for 2 5-Pack Pencils
2. $5.00 for the 5 Arena/Dividers
3. $5.00 for a "Custom" Binder

Or if there are several children in the Family... Some people won't like the concept... They'll think it's too Capitalist ... But I say offering something DIFFERENT to kids and parents. Something UNIQUE too... For ATM the only source to buy is from YOU.

Again another POV. Best.

And for all those critics "out-there"...

I am not driven by money. But IF we enjoy "working" with people like Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Designers and Fiction Writers ... Well it costs money to "contract" all these people out. So IF you want to continue in this business... You need to find ways to make "revenue". You don't have to make $100k a year ... But if you have a mortgage or a small family, you need to bring in monies to sustain your expenses and living.

Saying something like you can make $24k in about 100 days or less... Is just a way of approximating possible revenues that are REALISTIC and can be understandable.

So if anyone thinks that I am driven by money ... The answer is: "Yes, we all need to make money if we are expected to pay our mortgages, pay our car leases, pay for food, etc." And if you primary source of revenue is MAKING games... Well congrats to you... If you can make ends-meet. That is amazing and you are one super person.

We also have more projects we want to bring to market. Again more monies required to get the right people on-board and all the time and effort put into these concepts... IF we are not doing this as a "Hobby" ... Well then money needs to be "talked about" and put into the "equation" in: "How well can a concept sell and where can I sell it???"

So my goal is to convince everyone ... That if you have a concept YOU believe will work... PROVE IT. Don't spend 10 years of your life designing something that you know will never come to market. Spend a year or two doing that... And then TRY to see IF you can finance it and earn something with it.

That's the TRUE proof-in-the-pudding. Trying to make it happen... And seeing if you can be capable of making the concept work for you and your Family. We all have obligations... I personally think if you can MAKE something and make a LIVING off of it... You'll probably be more happy than if you work a 9:00 to 5:00 job each and everyday.

Again that's only my POV. Others may feel differently. Cheers!

Got someone to make the sell

Got someone to make the sell sheet sketches for cheap.

Here is their first draft of the game start illustration:

Wow those sketches look great for your Sell Sheet

Is this for the Sell Sheet? Or for the rulebook?? I think these are to replace some of the sketches on the Sell Sheet, right???

They look very good so far. Are they going to be colored or just black outline (to give it a more "sketched" out look)?!

Best of luck with the "concept". I didn't want to say "Game" because they are also pencils and so it sounds more like a "premium product" so I used the term "concept". Cheers!

I have updated the sell sheet

I have updated the sell sheet with the new sketches (and made a few other changes).

Better Text, Better Copy

I think your font choices and the copy you added specifically about licensing make this much stronger.

Dr. Lew mentions in one of his video lectures that "kids nowadays," don't create the stories themselves anymore. Instead, it's licensed properties and IP that children participate in. Like all the licensed LEGO bricks sets out there, a set of -Battle Pencils- would be infinitely more attractive to the younger student if it had characters they knew of and enjoyed.

I have young nephews, and I know that since they grew up with programs like "Paw Patrol" and "Pippa Pig" and more recently shows like "Teen Titans Go" they would definitely enjoy seeing the characters they know on their school supplies.

Added color to the pencil type symbols (and band).

I added color to the pencil-type symbols (and band).

Note: The "Lightning T" next to Erasuarus's 65 is the TIEBREAKER! ability. His 65T would beat (instead of tie) any 65 without a T next to it.

Not shown here is the AVENGE (A) ability. Any number next to an A is temporarily boosted by 10 power during the battle after losing the previous battle only.

A complete sell sheet overhaul with color

Excellent Revisions

The sell sheet is looking ace, Gregg! Nice work. :D

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