Tuesday, May 12, 2015

If you build it, they will come. Part 2: Boards, Tokens & Dice.

Last week I talked about making cards for your prototype. Continuing the topic of prototyping your game, I’d like to talk about tiles, tokens and dice – and of the importance of cannibalizing other games.
Some basic tools: box cutter, heavy duty scissors, paper glue.

1. Tiles and boards

Making tiles and boards can be as simple, or as complicated and time consuming as you want it to be. Depending on how much work you want to put into your prototype, and on the actual use of a given component, you may either use some cardboard and paper glue, or simply a thicker type of paper you can print directly on.
Mistfall Hero Charters getting ready to be glued on thick cardboard sheets.

Cutting out tiles from a large sheet may be problematic, and you will probably do well to first get a specialist knife (or a box cutter) and something to safely cut on (like a self healing mat). But you can also make your life much easier by using tiles from another game as a base. You can paste over them with your printouts, and possibly trim down to the proper size.
Prototype Praetor tiles, and prototype Mistfall tiles pasted on final Praetor tiles.

As for boards, you can use anything to make them thick – but you can also simply use thick paper for your prototype. Wargames have gone with “maps” instead of boards for years, so if you don’t have anything you could mount your prototype board on, simply don’t mount it. Just use some scotch tape to make sure that smaller pieces don’t separate during game (or print it on a large sheet), and you are good to go.
This Versailles board is here for one purpose only: it will become a prototype board for a new game.

2. Game Tokens

The simplest way to make tokens is not to make them at all. If you need money for your prototype, borrow some coin tokens from another game, or use poker chips. If you need different types of goods you will be trading with or exchanging for victory points, consider simply using wooden or plastic cubes (again, taken from another game or bough from a specialist store). I personally use different types of markers, from wooden disks and cubes, to glass beads and tiddlywinks. You might be surprised what you can find at the florist’s or at a craft store.
Prototype tokens for Praetor and Versailles made using tokens fro other games and trimmed down to size.

3. Custom dice

The easiest way to make custom dice is to find blank dice online, and then either print out and paste the custom faces – or simply use a permanent marker. The second option is not quite as good, as you will most probably be unable to reuse any dice later – unless you paste over what you wrote on them – or even tweak the dice for the current prototype.
Blank dice and some prototype dice made by pasting printouts.

If blank dice are not a viable option, you can also use regular dice to paste over. Although, I strongly recommend using big dice with unrounded corners, as it is much easier to paste on them: you simply cut out squares (instead of circles) and glue them to the die sides. Finally, if none of these options are available, or you need dice other than the standard six sided ones, you can always prepare cheat-sheets, which will translate any numbers from regular dice into specific symbol outcomes (or other numbers). Be aware though, that this option may negatively impact the comfort of playing your prototype.
If you have to use regular dice, choose ones that are least rounded on the corners.

Next time…

I will be talking about some more general tips and tricks, wrapping up my prototyping series. As always, if you have any questions (or there is something more you’d specifically want to know – or add), ask away! Till next time
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