Local Game Entrepreneur Launches Tabletop Tattoo Game Tattoo! A Game of Ink

Michael Epstein, a recent Northeastern grad, is making his mark in the gaming world—the table-top, board game world—with “Tattoo! A Game of Ink.” In “Tattoo,” each of two or four players buys and places designs on an individual ‘armboard.’ The game, which was the only non-digital competitor, won second place in the 2016 Mass DiGI Games Challenge.

Tabletop Game Resurgence

Table-top strategy games have been making a comeback for several years. Part of the appeal is the personal interaction and a sense of creative freedom. The face-to-face element of board games promotes companionship and conviviality. The steadily growing interest in board games has made a competitive market.

Tattoo! A Game of Ink

The game concept was born after Epstein saw a tattoo artist presentation. “It was a world I had known nothing about,” said Epstein. “Then I had this image of laying out ‘card tattoos’ on an arm-shaped board.”

“I wanted to bring awareness to the skill and beauty of this ancient and unique art form, and the idea of a board game with personal interaction and gaming strategy is especially exciting for me.” Epstein went to work.

“More than twenty real tattoo artists from around the country contributed original, commissioned art in a variety of styles,” said Epstein.

Publisher Gaming Paper LLC

Epstein took his idea to Gen Con, an annual tabletop games convention in Indianapolis in 2015 and approached the booth of Gaming Paper LLC. Gaming Paper founder Eric Bauer played a round of Tattoo with Epstein. The novel idea and the intention to showcase the work or real tattoo artists appealed to Bauer immediately.

“Almost on the spot he offered me a publishing deal,” said Epstein.


Until this project, Gaming Paper had focused on tabletop roleplaying games involving paper, so both Bauer and Epstein are entering the board game market together. Gaming Paper LLC just launched the Kickstarter campaign for “Tattoo!” with the goal of reaching $35,000 in pledged donations.

Speaking last week from the annual Indianapolis Gen Con, Epstein said, “A lot of board games start with Kickstarter. It takes some burden off the designer and publisher and gives them an idea of the market for their game.”

And the Winner is…

In “Tattoo”, two to four players compete to earn reputation points as they buy, place and score tattoo designs on individual arm boards. Points accrue from the value of the tattoo and from placing related designs next to each other. “Tattoo options are limited,” says Epstein. “Players have to calculate what and when to buy, as well as try to manage what opponents can get. When the tattoo deck is empty, the winner is the player with the most points.