On and off, I’ve been creating my own board games since I was young. Only for fun. Never intended for publication. Some ideas failed. Some ideas proved to be uninteresting. Others faltered at play testing. Here are some of the things I’ve come up with along the way.
Hunter. This was the very first game I made. I must have been about 10 or 11. The board was drawn on the back of some wallpaper, the cards were cut out of my parent’s writing pad and dice, counters and money were nicked from other board games. The players were fur trappers in the States in the late C19th. The perimeter of the board was where you went hunting. You could enter a town from certain squares and trade your furs (a bit like following a career path in “Careers”). I seem to remember I even put in the ability to gamble in the “saloon” in the town. Winner was the first to hit a monetary target and retire in luxury :) On reflection, it wasn’t a bad little game, especially for a 10 year old, but sadly it didn’t survive.
Other ideas came and went but there was very little chance of producing even a basic prototype when everything had to be drawn and written by hand. Anything I did from this period has been lost. But then the PC appeared. I had an Amstrad PCW at the start of the home computing revolution and things started to become easier.
Majority. This game is from that era. This was my “simple game” period. I was trying to make a fun game but with an absolute minimum of rules and components. This is actually an abstract game but I’ve set the playing area as a map of Great Britain to make it accessible. There’s a big element of luck involved but a high level of interaction between the players, which is its appeal. Here’s the entire game (scanned) produced partly by hand, partly with Letraset and partly on my old Amstrad : Rules; Board Top; Board Bottom.
Home PCs started to become affordable but printers and “drawing” software were pretty crude. Here’s a card game with beautifully organised rules, thanks to word processing :) , but the original cards had to be hand produced.
The 13 Cities. A war card game. The players had to gain 7 of the 13 City States to take control of the Realm. There are battles and sieges, powerful Generals, sneaky Spies and ruthless Assassins. The cards had to be hand drawn and so I can’t show them here. However, here is the, very thorough, set of Rules and you could recreate the cards from the information here.
Now we have word processors, DTP packages, graphics programs and the World Wide Web to find all the images you need to produce quite convincing looking prototypes. However that doesn’t mean the game’s any good ...
Real Politik. Here’s a game that failed! Have a read of the Rules. It doesn’t sound too bad, does it? However, the game didn’t give the players any feeling that they were in control. A computer might as well have been doing everything and then give them the result at the end.
Here’s a few games with complete prototypes, graphics and all, thanks to my reasonably powerful PC.
Match Sticks. A very simple family game but with a deal of strategy if you want to play it that way. Matchsticks with coloured tips are placed on a playing area made up of triangles and you score if your “Match Stick” matches other colours where the triangles intersect. I liked this idea so much I was thinking of hawking it to manufacturers. The USP is that it would come in a box that looks like a large version of the classic matchbox. For that to happen the “board” was to be printed on a cloth to be folded up. Consequently, I can’t ‘publish’ the full prototype. Here are the Rules, which is the easy bit. I designed the Board as a series of transfers to be ironed onto cloth and so it’s an inverted mirror image. And, alas, the Match Sticks have to be hand coloured. The rules do tell you how many of each combination you need. I did wonder where I was going to get the matchsticks from. It seems people still make models of the Taj Mahal, or whatever, out of matchsticks and I found I could buy hundreds for a couple of quid from specialist craft shots. This photo might help if you want to put the game together :
House M.D. “House” is one of the few TV programmes I bother to watch nowadays. The mechanics for this game came to me while I was doing the washing up one day! It’s a card game, in which the members of House’s (original) diagnostics team race to diagnose and save their patient. Here are the Rules. The playing cards were designed to be printed on double sided business cards and so they are quite complex to duplex print. If you are interested please e-mail me and I’ll try and sort out a sensible .pdf. There’s also a box for this one:
The Battle In The White Forest. Finally, here’s some work in progress. If you found this site, at all, then you’re probably a FPS fan. In which case you’ve almost certainly played Half-Life 2:Ep2. And, so, you’ll remember the battle against the Striders and Hunters at the end. Well, here’s possibly the first board game based on a video game! Here are the Rules and the Board and Counters. But this is work in progress. The Board’s a bit crude and you’ll find a list of game mechanics I need to confirm at the end of the rules. If you play it, e-mail me and let me know how it goes and I’ll tune it accordingly :)