Project overview

Astronauts love floating around in space, but not all by themselves! Tether them together so they don’t drift through the galaxy alone.

Tether is a card game about connecting astronauts together for 2 players or teams.

The game uses a Mirror Deck, which means that each card has a 2-digit number on it and when you rotate the card 180° the digits swap places. For example, the card with 18 shows an 81 from the other direction. Every number from 01 to 98 is in the deck.
During the game you tether astronauts together if they have consecutive numbers. Because players see a different number on each card, they have different connections available, leading to a highly interactive asymmetrical challenge.
Tether includes 53 mirrored cards, 2 planisphere dials for keeping score, and a rulebook.
Plus you'll receive the Full Color Print and Play files and assorted digital art.
Here's a closeup of an early render of the score keeping dial. It has a cutout for you to see the stars and find the constellations in Tether's sky.
All backers who are on the How To Steam Broccoli mailing list will receive the low ink "coloring book" print and play files. Sign up here.
Tether is a game for 2 players or teams. Players sit across from each other so they see cards from opposite directions. One side connects astronauts horizontally and the other connects them vertically.

You have the 18 and 19 in your hand. You are the vertical player in a 2 player game, so you connect them on the table like this.
But the other player sees an 81, and they are connecting horizontally, so they might add this card, which shows an 82 for them, making the group larger.
In this way, both players connect to the same groups, but the Vertical Player makes them taller while the Horizontal Player makes them wider.

During the game, you’ll play cards from your hand to the table, making several different groups, adding astronauts to them, and even connecting different groups together. Eventually a group will be large enough to score. When that happens, count how wide the group is and the Horizontal Player gets that many points, then count how tall the group is and the Vertical Player gets that many points.

There will be multiple groups of astronauts as you play, and sometimes they can connect together to form a bigger group.
Score any group when they have at least 6 astronauts connected together then again when they have at least 10 astronauts, then eventually you’ll have a large group of 14 or more cards, and as soon as you score that group the game ends and the player with most points wins.

Here's a video tutorial from Before You Play that does a wonderful job showing you how Tether works and how a full game could play out.

And you can check out this overview video from Rahdo Runs Through.

At How To Steam Broccoli, we aim to make games that are a little bit unique. Mirror Decks are not commonly used in games, so we knew one of the big challenges would be making sure it’s easy to read the cards and find the numbers you’re looking for. We’ve taken a two-pronged approach to this challenge.
  • We researched different font options and found OpenDyslexic ( It was created to help with dyslexia, and one of the defining features is that each digit has a unique shape (a 6 is not an upside down 9, for instance). Additionally, each character is weighted more toward the bottom to make it easier to know which way is right side up. These attributes combine to make it a great choice for Tether.
  • Each number has a different shade of color behind it. We used a gradient that gradually moves from color to color through all the numbers in the deck. This color pattern makes it faster to scan your hand or table and easily recognize which numbers are close to each other, since their colors are also close to each other.
As we continue to get more eyes on the cards, we're still tweaking the graphic design in an effort to make it as clear as possible as you play.
Tether is a special game for us and we want to make it a special game for everyone. Part of this is making it as beautiful as possible. We partnered with Eric Hibbeler because he is an incredible illustrator who has a style we adore. He has been nothing short of amazing, and his work speaks for itself.

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