Designer Diary #3: The Primary – Solo Variant

Here is the third entry in our Designer Diary! Read on to learn about our experience with Adobe InDesign, Tabletop Simulator, and creating a solo variant of The Primary.


The Primary is a light, election-themed game where each player is a candidate during a United States presidential primary election. Over the course of the game, players campaign across the country – gaining influence, running advertisements, lobbying to Super PACs, and more, all in the hopes of winning delegates. Simultaneous action, area control, and action programming mechanics keep each round exciting until the very end!

Check out our previous Designer Diary entries for more insight into our game design process for The Primary.

The Primary - Solo Variant


I have recently discovered Adobe InDesign and wanted to just give it a few words of praise. I’ve only used it for the Data Merge feature, but this alone is tremendously valuable and helps save a ton of time when prototyping cards. In a nutshell, you can import data from a spreadsheet and automatically populate a card template, to then print out an entire deck of cards. I’ll be writing up a quick tutorial on this in the future.

Over the last week, I have also toyed around with Tabletop Simulator a little bit. It seems like a neat way to digitize a game and may be a good way to get a different form of playtesting for The Primary. Like InDesign, I’m not terribly familiar with the software but it seems like a powerful resource.

A recent podcast from the Board Game Design Lab featured Morten Pedersen and was focused on creating a solo variant for board games. I found the discussion very interesting and it inspired me to follow Morten’s design methodology for The Primary. I created a deck of cards that a solo players uses to determine actions of a dummy player / bot. The focus was to keep the central elements of the game that are fun and create tension, while simplifying and streamlining the experience for a solo player.


In playtesting the new solo variant of The Primary, I found lots and lots of things to tweak. It amazes me how well something can seem to work in your mind, but once on the table, it falls apart. I’m excited to update the rules and cards and try it out again!

Next Steps

The solo variant of The Primary will take a lot of tweaking, so I anticipate lots of playtesting. Thankfully, playtesting a solo variant is much easier the multiplayer game!

The playtesting grind will continue – we keep getting great feedback and have lots of things to test and tweak. Hopefully we can get some more remote playtesters to play and provide feedback. It’s one thing to guide players in person during playtests, but you can get very different feedback from players who are only following the rulebook. If you are interested in playtesting, please click here to sign up!

Thanks for reading our Designer Diary! What else would you like to hear about? What did you find boring? Feel free to share your thoughts and comment below!

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