Triumphs and Tribulations of a PnP Gamer

An attempt to chronicle my PnP efforts and give others an opportunity to tell me what I am doing wrong.
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What am I getting myself into?

Peter Wiles
United States
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Hi. My name is Peter Wiles. I like to build games.

That is all well and good, but the problem is that I seem to have a problem finishing up the projects that I start. After participating in the PnP Secret Santa this year and creating two full games that I was relatively proud of, I decided that I needed a kick in the pants to keep that momentum going. I am hoping that this blog will serve as a pretty effective boot. Besides being a motivational tool, I am also hoping people will stop by and give me pointers about how I might do things better or chime in about alternative methods. I thought that if I made my own practices visible and open to critique, that would then contribute to the overall knowledge base on this site.


I’ve been a BGG lurker for a while so most of you don’t know who the heck I am. Maybe I need to talk about what I have built. One of the first projects I did was make up my own version of Clue: The Great Museum Caper. I was really intrigued by the game and figured I’d never stumble across it (though, as it turns out, I since have obtained a copy). Since the game is basically just a board and different kinds of pawns, I thought it would be a doable project. I put it together just using the drawing tools in Microsoft Word. By no means is it a professional job, but I enjoyed building it. I am glad to have a real copy now, though. I tried to dig it out to take a picture, but I think I might have disposed of it when I moved.

Another early project was a re-theme of Chicken Cha Cha Cha. I changed it using images of Scooby-Doo (a favorite of my son). The idea was that the villains were face down in the center and the Mystery Inc Gang are going around trying to find them. It worked really well. Unfortunately, I ended up giving it away to my Brother and haven’t made up another copy.. See, this blog is working already. I had kind of forgotten that I needed to do that.

Since I was in a re-theming mood, I also had it in my head that I wanted to do a re-theme of Lost Cities. I like the game, but the theme just doesn’t work for me (I like exploration as a theme, it just doesn’t fit with this game in my opinion). I wanted to create a version built around civilization building. The idea is that each person is researching various technologies or advancements. The 5 suits would represents different "tech-trees": science, civics, art, industry, and military. I thought it kind of made sense that if one player invented something, it would not be available to the other player. It also kind of made sense to me that you can’t go backwards (once rifles are in, it doesn’t make sense to try to begin researching muskets). The problem was that I have absolutely no experience with graphic design. So, I took it upon myself to learn GIMP and actually design the cards myself. About 3 years later, I’ve gotten passably proficient with GIMP, and I think I have called the design "done." If I didn’t I would probably keep tweaking it forever. I made up one copy of the deck as a test, but since I have changed a few things and need to go back and redo it. Again, another project for this blog. Here is a sample of some of the cards I designed, along with the card back.

I’m no expert, but I’ve had a long interest in papercraft and origami. I’ve loved the stuff that WorldWorks Games has been putting out, and one of my biggest projects was making up Wormhole. That was quite an undertaking, but I really enjoyed it. Here is a picture of my build:

Another design project that I undertook was playing around with D-Day Dice: Free Trial Version. I wanted to redesign the board so that I didn’t have to keep track of anything with pencil and paper. That project was almost done when it was announced that it was going to be published. So I stopped my work on that and am patiently awaiting my Kickstarter copy to arrive. Here is a picture of what I had going.

I started building an origami Menger Sponge (no, I didn’t finish) and it occurred to me that the method I was using the make the cubes would work well for making dice. I’ve detailed the method I used here. This is now my preferred method for making custom dice. Sure, they don’t give off the nice clacking sound when they hit the table, but I think they look nice. I’ve made a few dice games using this method (Chunky Fighters, Aether Captains)

I made up a nice mounted copy of Zombie in my Pocket that I gave to my older son. Other games have been just simple games that only require printing out a page, like Dice of the Living Dead, nothing requiring cards or dice or mounting onto chipboard.

So where am I going from here? I already made a version of Assault on Hoth: The Empire Strikes Back with 3D paper models for my secret santa target. Currently I am working on a version for myself the family (I was working on this the other day and my son came up and asked "So you are making different ones?" and I replied, "No, they are the same. I just wanted a copy for myself." He then said, "Well, it could be for the family." Duly edited, son).

First steps are futzing with the paper model designs. Momir Farooq’s models are superb, but after building them for secret santa, I noticed some parts where the joins are weak and easily come apart. I would like to try to fix that, so I am going to look at possibilities for making the models a little more sturdy. So, my next blog post will probably be a description of the problems I saw and ideas for improving it.
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