Designing Punch Out Components for Board Games

These components go by many names in the industry — Chipboard, Punchout, Punch Sheets, or Cardboard — but I typically just say “punch board” out of habit. They all refer to thick cardboard pressed between two glossy color laminate sheets on either side. A factory can create custom dies that perforate these sheets into different patterns, then the resulting tokens can be punched out of the sheet. (Packaging and shipping tokens still connected to a sheet protects them in transit until they’re purchased.) Before getting too far along in your design process, consult with your factory representative to confirm they are able to achieve your requests. They’ll offer solutions that best suit your needs at a budget you’re able to sustain. They will also explain how they prefer to have their files delivered.  Assume all punch board components require designated bleed, trim, and safe zones just like a card design. However, the thickness of the sheet determines how strict those margins need to be.

A Visit to Sid Sackson's Archives

After legendary designer Sid Sackson passed, the Strong Museum of Play became the home of his personal papers. This collection includes correspondences, journals, prototypes, sketches, and a bunch more ephemera from his long career. His diaries alone spanned 35 years and were intricately indexed. It will take years to transcribe and digitize them all, but the early parts of his career are up on the Sid Sackson Portal here: A year after the portal's launch, Julia Novakovic posted an update on the project's ongoing road map for future transcription and public display: But before the portal went online, the only way to see any of these papers was to go personally to the Strong Museum and schedule a visit with the curator. (Many thanks to Julia for giving a rando like me access to these artifacts!) My wife and I paid a visit to Rochester to

Translating Game Text to Language-Neutral Diagrams

Good news! I've submitted the final draft of my book "Graphic Design for Board Games" to the publisher! Of course that now leaves a void in my schedule for some other long-term project. I'm not yet certain what that would be, so for now I'll continue sharing early drafts and previews of what I've written for the book. The following section comes from the chapter on designing language-neutral diagrams. In this sub-section, I discuss the practical process of diagramming each part of a game action into glyphs and icons.

Three Principles of Card Design: Visibility, Hierarchy, Brevity

This is an excerpt from the rough draft of my book  Graphic Design for Board Games.  If you want early sneak peeks at the rest of the draft, including editorial comments and discussion, head over to my patreon ! 

What to do with Trickster, hmmm...

I've got the rights to Trickster back in my hands! I'm considering where its future may lead.  Trickster was my first attempt at really pushing print-on-demand as a primary distributor. It was an ambitious plan back in 2015. In those days, it was a series of individual small-deck card games. The deck sizes were optimized for best margins and ease of shipping from POD. Each deck was standalone, but could be shuffled together. The core rules were the same for all of the games, but the cards in each deck had unique abilities. (I would attempt this again with the " I Can't Even " series and with the  Plume  decks.)  After releasing the fourth deck, Trickster got picked up by a publisher as a  big box edition on Kickstarter , with a new look at revised theme. Unfortunately it never really caught on in retail. I think it's really better for a small indie channel like DriveThru. I'd been waiting for the retail inventory to run low before promoting the classic de

Rocket Broker - Worker Placement Area Control Roll-and-Write

(This is a rough sketch of a game from 2017, when dice placement and roll-and-writes were gaining more popularity. I was in a phase where I was just merging as many different ingredients together to see if they'd stick.  You can see some of these ideas in Pencil Park.) You’re trying to get your payloads onto rockets and into orbit. Rocket space ain’t cheap and neither is the fuel. You have to invest wisely if you want to launch!  Setup The game comes with a deck of rocket cards. Shuffle a number of cards based on player count. (Designer note: I never determined a number since this prototype never got tested.) Lay out six random rocket cards onto each of the launchpad spaces. Each rocket card has a space agency that is sponsoring its launch, like NASA, or JAXA. Each rocket has a different arrangement of spaces representing its cargo capacity. The oval below each rocket card space is its fuel, which will be needed for the rocket to launch at all.  Start of Round At the start of a rou

Ludology discusses imposter syndrome

It's the annual recap episode of the Ludology podcast. Important notes on imposter syndrome here. Host Erica Bouyouris is the designer of "Dumb Ways To Die," the best-selling new card game of the year. That should be a huge achievement for any game designer. Unfortunately, that doesn't align with BoardGameGeek buzz or lead to big awards, so she's had to come to terms with that as she continues in her career. Good discussion on feedback, mental health, and managing your well-being as a game designer.