Bytesize Adventures
Crafting bite-sized digital worlds

How to design a board game

It’s finally time for a new project and, what I hope will be, a brand new series of blog posts.

As you may have guessed from the title, my new project is a board game. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but it has always seemed so daunting. As I’m new to this, I’m going to try and document the process as I go. When I produced my previous App series, I had some experience to lean on but the board game design process is completely new to me so we’ll be learning together.

I’ve been playing board games (in their modern iteration) since around 2010 so I have experienced a fair few. This seems fairly important as you can’t really design a board game if you’ve never played one. You need exposure to modern board game mechanics in order to borrow and enhance these building blocks or to produce new ones.


The goal is to design a new board game and have a single physical copy produced to a reasonable quality. Additionally, if possible, the game should be a free print ‘n play hosted on Board Game Geek.


Constraints are useful when beginning a project as they prevent us from getting carried away with ideas which inevitably results in an unfinished project. With that in mind, these are the initial constraints for this project:

  • Maximum of 52 cards (a standard deck). Although this could be stretched a little for balancing.
  • 2 players
  • No additional components

This means that resources, counters, player aids, etc will all need to be included within the 52 cards. Rules are the exception although it would be nice if they could be included within the card format too!

Whilst prototyping I am allowing myself to use other resources such as meeples and wooden cubes. This is purely for ease of development and will need to be replaced with cards during development (unless the other components offer some benefit).

The Idea

My aim with this game is to create an experience that is satisfying to play. By this I mean that not all games need to be a great puzzle or a frantic race, some can occupy a space where they are not particularly challenging but are just fun to play. My reference point for this is Lords of Waterdeep. The game is not particularly complex but it is extremely satisfying to collect resources and complete new quests.

A game mechanic that I particularly like is worker placement. I really enjoy deciding what to do with my limited workers, gaining resources or triggering an action. Beyond this, I prefer when the spaces are not static. I like seeing the options evolve through the game. This is something I want to explore with my game.

Finally, in terms of theme, I have initially settled on a “war” theme. I’m going to use that term fairly lightly because currently it is driving the concept of a “front line” and works well with the tug-of-war mechanism that I’m playing around with. This is by no means final though and may change.

So the game that is taking shape is about building structures on your side of a front line. These structures will either offer passive abilities or add new spaces that can be activated by workers. The front line plays a crucial role too as it moves through the course of the game and also offers shared spaces for gathering resources.

All that said, watch this space as I’m still playing with the basics and it’s already evolving.


I thought it would be nice to gather the resources that I use throughout the project. I’ll mention resources specific to the post and will most likely collect them together in a separate post at the end of the series.

There are several other Youtube channels that I tend to follow, more from a player’s perspective: Shut Up & Sit Down, The Players Aid, and No Pun Included.

If you know of any other key resources then feel free to let me know in the comments.

Next time

In the next post I’ll explain my overall concept in some more detail.