Saturday, 14 July 2007

self-made games

I have self-made quite a number of games. I did not design these games. I just bought materials and hand-made them myself, by referring to available information of these games, e.g. number of cards, how the board looks like. In some case I self-made these games because they were out-of-print, or they were too expensive or too difficult to buy. In most cases I am just being cheap-skate and want to save some money. Most of my self-made games are self-contained, i.e. I have all the required components in a box or in an envelope (or both) and I can just take it off my shelf and play, e.g. Ca$h n Gun$, Medici & Strozzi, En Garde. Some games need some components to be taken from another game, e.g. Samurai (which uses the nice soldier pieces from Samurai Swords), Can't Stop (which uses markers and dice from Age of Steam). Some games I shouldn't really claim that I own or that I have self-made them, because I can simply use components from another game to play them, e.g. Babylone (I can use the different coloured tiles from Tigris & Euphrates), Loco (I use the Sticheln cards and the plastic poker chips I bought from Taiwan). The disadvantage of these games which use components from another game is that I tend to put them together with the other game, and when I scan my boardgame self for games to play, I won't see them and won't think of pulling them out to play. Even for the self-contained self-made games, their boxes are not as flashy as the real games. Sometimes they are just in envelops and they are not eye-catching.

Can't Stop

This is my current list of games that I have self-made (I'm pretty sure I will make more in future):

  • Through the Desert
  • Traumfabrik (Hollywood Blockbuster)
  • Modern Art
  • Ra
  • Ca$h n Gun$
  • Acquire
  • Samurai
  • Battle Line
  • Medici & Strozzi
  • Yinsh
  • En Garde
  • Poison
  • Verrater
  • Can't Stop
  • Kingdoms
  • Reef Encounter

For some of these games, I ended up buying them later anyway, because I like them, or because they were later republished (i.e. I made them when they were out-of-print). E.g. Modern Art, Through the Desert. 10 out of 16 games above are designed by Reiner Knizia. It's because I tend to like his games, and also his games tend to be easier to self-make.

Verrater, rethemed from clan wars in the Scottish highlands to the Romance of the Three Kingdom's period in Chinese history

The first game that I self-made was Samurai. This was even before I really got into the boardgame hobby. At the time my hobby was still PC games, and I downloaded this free PC version of the Samurai boardgame. I didn't even realise it was originally a boardgame. I played it and liked it and thought that this could be made into a boardgame. So I did it. Only later I realised Samurai is one of the highly regarded games in the Eurogames hobby.

Sometimes I wonder whether the effort spent making these games was worthwhile. Some games were made and then only played once or twice, e.g. Kingdoms, Reef Encounter (a LOT of effort into this one). Time spent making them was more than time spent playing them afterwards. I guess I am enjoying the process of making these games as well as playing them itself.

The self-made games that are most worth the effort are Ra, Ca$h n Gun$ and Traumfabrik (Hollywood Blockbuster). I played Ra many many times with my friends in Taiwan. I had a lot of fun playing Ca$h n Gun$, and I liked Traumfabrik (roughly translated as "Dream Factory") a lot.

Traumfabrik (Hollywood Blockbuster)

The tools I use in self-making games include Microsoft Powerpoint, hard cardboard paper, wide sticky tape, cutter, scissors, permanent marker pens, and cheap game components (like cheap playing cards, cheap Go pieces). I download pictures from the internet to create my own gameboard and game components. I bring printouts to the nearby shop to be laminated (some are for gameboard, some are for cards, after cutting them up).

I like some of my self-made games more than the real ones, because when self-making a game, I can apply a different theme to it which I like more. For Traumfabrik, a game about movie-making, I downloaded some files from Boardgamegeek which allowed me to create my copy about movies, directors and actors from around the 90's period, as opposed to being about old, classic movies which I am not familiar with. The recently reprinted version, Hollywood Blockbuster, uses modern day movies, but the publisher distorted the names a bit so as to avoid copyright issues. Also the actors are cartoons and not photos. For Ca$h n Gun$, I used photos of Hong Kong actors holding guns, as opposed to the cartoon characters in the original game. Sometimes when playing this game we call it "Infernal Affairs" 无间道 (which is an award winning movie starring Andy Lau 刘德华 and Tony Leung 梁朝伟). It is especially relevant to the movie when playing the undercover cop variant. I have both Andy Lau and Tony Leung in my self-made version.

I wonder what will be my next handicraft project.

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