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Take On The Build-Your-Own-Board Game Challenge - Antsy Labs

Take On The Build-Your-Own-Board Game Challenge

Is your weekly board game night getting a little boring? Tired of the kids constantly asking to play Candyland?

We might have just the trick for you: Why not design and build your very own board game?

Just for Tabletop Gamers!

Becoming the best player you can be is a challenge. Becoming the best player in multiple games is even more challenging. You're ready for it. But it takes a lot of turns, a lot of rolls of the dice, before you reach that level of excellence. Stay motivated and reward yourself with IRLA Tabletop Gaming challenge medals. Get a series of five medals that mark your milestones for playing multiple tabletop games. As you set more goals and make progress in your quest to be the best, your IRLAs give you the motivation to do more and more.

As board game designers ourselves, we know firsthand the joy and satisfaction that comes from creating a game from scratch. 

We've designed games like Fidget Factory and Storm the Gate, and we've loved (almost) every minute of the process.

From brainstorming game mechanics and designing components to playtesting and refining the game, creating a board game can be even more fun than playing one.

That said, knowing where to start isn’t always easy. Have you heard of writer’s block? Board game builder’s block is even worse!

But that’s not something you have to worry about, because we’re giving you our tips and tricks with our Build-Your-Own-Board Game Challenge!

This short guide is meant to inspire you to get creative, test your ideas, and build a game that you'll be proud to share with others. Get ready, because the Build-Your-Own-Board Game Challenge starts now!

Step 1: The Basics Of A Board Game

These are essential elements that every board game should have, regardless of its complexity. 

Here are three basics and why they're a good starting point for building your own board game:

  • Clear Goal - Every board game needs to have a clear goal that the players are trying to achieve. Whether it’s a finish line to be crossed or a world to be conquered, this goal provides direction and purpose to the game and gives players something to strive for.

  • Rules - Once you have a goal, you can think about the rules that will get you to that goal. Rules should be easy to understand and follow, even for players who are new to the game. They should also be consistent, meaning that the same rule applies to all players and situations.

  • Number of Players - You’re not playing solitaire, after all! Designing your board game is going to depend heavily on just how many players can play at a time. The number of players impacts game mechanics, strategy, and pacing, so it's important to determine the number of players from the outset.

Step 2: Choosing Your Game Materials

Now that you’ve gotten some of the more thinky aspects out of the way in this build-your-own-board-game challenge, it’s time to get to work.

What makes a board game (or tabletop game) fun is that there’s something there! Something physical to touch! And now that you’re in charge, you get to decide what it’s made of. Feel free to go full arts ‘n crafts… or stick to a pen and paper. 

We’ve got four suggestions to get you started:

  1. Cardboard - Cardboard is a versatile, inexpensive material that can be used for creating game boards, player pieces, and cards.

  2. Paper - Paper can be used for creating game boards, cards, and even dice. It's also easy to print on, making it an ideal material for prototyping game components before you get high-quality versions professionally printed.

  3. Wood - Wood can be used for creating boards, player pieces, and even game boxes. It's durable and can give a board game a more premium feel. Setting it up can take a bit longer – and splinters are a concern! – so keep that in mind.

  4. Recycled materials - You can also consider what materials you might already have at home that you can use, like egg cartons, bottle caps, and cardboard tubes.

Don’t let our short list limit your imagination. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the materials you choose will depend on the type of game you're creating, your budget, and the level of detail you want to achieve.

Step 3: Finding Inspiration In Your Favorite Games

Not quite sure where to start when it comes to developing your game? There’s no need to recreate the wheel. Look to your old favorites for inspiration, then add some new twists and mechanics:

  • Modify existing game mechanics - Take a look at your favorite games and think about how you could modify the mechanics to create something new. What would Monopoly look like if all the players were teamed up against the bank?

  • Adapt to a different theme - Consider adapting an existing game to a different theme. One idea: take a game like Scrabble and create a version based on lines from movies (e.g. you can only play a word if it’s part of a famous movie quote… that you act out!).

  • Combine different games - Try combining elements to create something new. For example, you could take the mechanics of a game like Risk and a game like Guess Who to try and guess whose army is on the move before it’s too late!

Step 4: Revising and Finalizing

The ideation stage is one non-stop brainstorming blast. Now comes the reality of applying rules to madness. While there may be some bumps in the road, take it in stride because you’re getting that much closer to having made your very own board game.

Here are a few tips from our own experience that you might find useful:

  • Get feedback - Once you have a rough prototype of your game, get feedback from friends and family. This will help you identify any flaws in the game mechanics or rules, and give you an idea of how fun the game is to play.

  • Playtest, playtest, playtest - Keep playing the game, and make adjustments as you go. The more you play, the more you'll learn about what works and what doesn't.

  • Don't be afraid to make changes - If something isn't working, don't be afraid to make changes. This could be something as simple as tweaking the rules, or as significant as completely changing the game mechanics.

  • Refine the components - Once you've settled on the game mechanics and rules, spend some time refining the components. This could include creating a more polished game board, designing player pieces, or creating custom cards.

  • Keep it simple, Simon - Be careful not to add too many mechanics to the game, as this can make it difficult to play. Especially if it’s your first game, just focus on making it enjoyable and easy to understand.

Step 5: Let’s Play

The wait is over. 

Now that you've designed and built your very own board game, it's time to invite your friends and family over to play! 

And while you’re at it, don't forget to treat yourself to our Tabletop Gaming IRLA challenge medal pack. It’s all about celebrating a love of tabletop gaming with medals for achievements like playing a dungeon crawl, a legacy game, a 4x game, and yes, hosting a game night!

Grab your pack here, and don’t forget to send us a picture of your brand new board game!



Turn-by-turn, role-playing, strategy, and more - when it comes to games played among friends, there may be categories, but there are no limits. Each of these IRLAs celebrates the roll of a die, the casting of a spell, and every dungeon mastered. Gather your friends and family for game nights and lose yourself in the magic.

A game night to remember.

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