Make Your Own Boardgame

At a recent gaming convention (K2, a small residential convention in Kerry), I played almost nothing but boardgames (and, admittedly, some poker). This is what I usually do at Gaelcon as well, but the exposure over a few days and evenings, and the number of people at K2 who were really into boardgames as a genre made me think.

A very long time ago, when I was in my early teens, I had a go at designing my own boardgames. This was mostly driven by the fact that I could read in some of the magazines I had about games like HeroQuest, but couldn't find it in the shops (or hadn't enough pocket money to buy it, due to spending it all on books). So the games I was making were weird hybrids of Monopoly and Risk, which I knew, with elements drawn in from the way I imagined HeroQuest and Space Crusade to be. I had access to my father's workshop, and some small skill in woodwork, which meant I could make wooden playing pieces. I also had enough in the way of drawing tools to make tiles, cards, and so forth, so my home-made games, sprawling as they were, probably had higher production values than, say, Cheap Ass Games today.

Yehuda points out 10 important aspects of a boardgame, and I've been considering those in light of the games I made. I think I hit a good few of them, albeit accidentally - I certainly knew nothing about game design. The ones I really fell down on were the notion of limited decisions, because as far as I can remember, I built in more and more possibilities with every game I invented, and game balance, because I had no idea what I was doing there. It was pretty plain, after a few trials of a given game, that a given set of starting circumstances meant you were going to win, but I hadn't any way to address that.

Given that I really like games like Puerto Rico, Arkham Horror, and, when I eventually got to play it, HeroQuest, maybe I should have a go at producing my own again. Or even reproducing the ones I made as a kid, and seeing if they could ever be made to work properly.

Posted by Drew Shiel at April 12, 2007 2:32 PM

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