Boardgame Jam – How it Went

Make and Mend Market, 21st September 2013

Hosted by the Star & Shadow Cinema

So, on Saturday, myself and Alexi Conman* set out to run a Boardgame Jam as part of the Make and Mend Market at the Star and Shadow Cinema.

I’d not really planned much beyond obtaining about fifteen quids worth of old boardgames (Alexi and Jack Fallows donated some more), and cutting up some mount board into squares, circles and hexagons with my newly obtained Die Cutter. More on that topic in another post.


We had a pretty good time, and it was mostly about figuring out how we might do such a thing in future and agreeing that it we probably will. More on that soon too.

So we made some games. Here are a few of them:

Cops and Robbers


An interesting game, and one which at a number of points made me wish I’d brought some kind of disclaimer forms with me. The cops and the robbers start at opposite sides of the track, and both travel clockwise. Whichever catches up to the other wins: it’s effectively a roll and move game loosly based on monopoly, but it has a couple of interesting mechanics and an theme that became increasingly scatalogical.

Both the cops and the robbers have squares that allow them to place cards on the track in the path of their opponent. In the case of the robbers, it allows them to blow up bridges and knock the cops into holes, slowing them down. In the case of the cops, there appeared to be only two kinds of cards: ones which meant instant death for the robbers and onces which required the cop player to mime having a poo, or (in game, presumably, thankfully it didn’t come up during play testing) moon the robbers. Aside from instant death, these cards were entirely thematic.

The ability to decide where in the path to place these was interesting to me, and livened up a roll and move mechanic. Also interesting from a mechanics perspective: robbing the actual bank was emulated by stacking wooden cubes: you gaine as many hundreds of dollars as you have cubes stacked. If they fall, you get none. I thought that this nicely related to the dexterity required by safe crackers and was thankful that it didn’t involve any bodily functions.

Post apocalyptic scattered civilisations


As a result of our random concept generation system, while I was figuring out Cops and Robbers, Alexi was experimenting with hexagons towards building a game of route finding through an irratidated landscape. This appeared to remain in a very experimental phase.

Extreme Jet Pack Vertigo Builder


Cuttlefish brought a concept that he’d been working on with his daughter for a while now. A collaborative game in which all players must get to the top of the central tower, building their scaffolding as they go using engineering principles and plays such as ‘The Inverted Gandalf’.

His earlier versions involved meccano and suffered from long delays between turns while bridges and towers were constructed. Replacing these materials with plasticene and lolly sticks made this a very interesting game indeed. Plasticene is more immediate.

The rules were simple: roll a dice to decide whether you move (each lolly stick is three squares long), gain building materials, or require you to add a block to the central tower. The players characters are required to stay on the lolly sticks, and falling off means returning to the bottom. All the players win if they all get to the top. All the players lose if any of the blocks fall off the tower.

I think it was a pretty good game, and certainly one which anyone could easily pull the pieces together for cheaply: the rules were formalised just enough to make it play without too much debate or interpretation and the materials we ended up using made it precarious and falls were frequent enough to be a real threat but not enoeugh to make the game frustrating. Very good.

Warewolf Hat Director versus Spoon of the Undead


We pulled together some quick prototype cards to experiment with an idea Alexi Conman has been developing. Alexi has an interesting direction with this game of hidden roles, mixed messages, conflicting goals and trust, and the cards we drew up here were a little flippant but did help us experiment with some of the ideas that are going into the game.

All in all?

We had a pretty good day, and I think we’re certain that we’d like to do something like this again, but with more structure, planning and outcomes, and specifically aimed at mid-teenagers and above rather than younger kids.

* I think it was Alexi Conman. You can never be 100% certain of these kinds of things.