Board Games

Since 2010 I've started designing a few boardgames. I started with the epic Colossus Awakes, and am still finishing the less complicated sequel, Kraken Arises. I've finished a smaller, elegant game called Pocket Troll, and am tweaking the rules of an otherwise complete casual card game called Troll.

Colossus Awakes

Colossus Awakes is a strategy game played on a 20x20 hex board with miniatures and card drafting. The premise is that the Colossi are the first race on an alien planet that bury themselves for millenia, and as they hibernate they leak mana into the earth, which accelerates evolution across the planet. 2-4 players each play a tribe in a valley in which a Colossus is Awakening, and its different limbs - head, tail, hands and feet - appear piece by piece. Each tribe has a different attitude reflected in its Goal Card: players may try to Kill, Release, Subdue or Survive the Colossus, and win when they either achieve this goal or all other players are removed the board.

Tribes are made up of three adventurers from five major races, the Hrulg, Qweeqweg, P'thia, Irelia, and T'laxi, and in the full game there is an NPC tribe, the easily manipulated Kiklik. Each tribe has its own history and in one rule variant specific racial bonuses.

I'll upload the resources and rules for a print and play version before too long, but for now here's some photos (the board, cards and some other components have been updated):

As is evident, the components vary in quality, as in some cases I just wanted them made and in other cases I was a little more obsessive. The Colossus pieces were made out of solid masses of Super Sculpy, painted white, and given a simple Games Workshop Devlan Mud wash. The miniatures were sketched, hand-made in Super Sculpy, moulded in pinkysil, cast with EasyCast, then painted with Games Workshop paints with a little layering and dry brushing. The hexes for the game board were made in InDesign and exported as a smart object in Photoshop, where it was composited. The terrain tiles were quickly sketched with an Intuous graphics tablet in Photoshop and mounted on agency board. The cards were initially made in Powerpoint, then redesigned in InDesign. Most of the resource boards were made in Powerpoint, along with the tokens, and similarly mounted on agency board. I printed some of the components at home on an inkjet and printed the rest off at Officeworks.

As this was a bit of an experiment to begin with, in its initial design this game included every possible design feature I could imagine I would want in a game, and I gradually whittled it back through about six major iterations until I ended up with the present design. In its early forms the core mechanic was hidden behind a whole range of rule constraints, and I had to tweak the rules so they gave the impression of enabling rather than crippling players. It's still a pretty complex rule system, somewhere between a Eurogame and traditional wargame, so I produced beginner's rules as well as the complete rules to ease in less experienced boardgamers in. Despite being targeted at a specific demographic of avid boardgamers, its current form is pretty much how I imagined it when I first came up with the idea and did some preliminary sketches.

Pocket Troll

Pocket Troll was a design challenge I set myself - make a game that fits in your pocket - and was finished before Colossus Awakes. It was inspired by an image of a troll standing in front of its cave, confronted by a young boy or girl. The game board has only 8 spaces (+2 tunnels), with a den at one end and a village at the other, and is played with tokens and cards. The premise is that 3 boys have seen a troll, but no one believes them. The boys have to bring 3 pieces of evidence to the village, while the troll has to get to the village at night (or eat all 3 boys).


Troll is a card game with some scoring tokens and board (which is optional). It is inspired by the same image as Pocket Troll, but focuses more on placing cards to represent opposing strategies between a boy and a troll. The deck has three rule variants, the first two of which play like a variant of poker, focusing on colour matching and winning hands to steal gold or bite the boy. The first rule variant has a prefixed number of cards that players use across three days (hands) while the second involves drawing and/or placing on their turn. The third rule variant better exploits the design of the cards, with players placing their cards troll- or boy-face up within a shared trail of up to three ongoing plans.

Kraken Arises

Kraken Arises is set on the same world as Colossus Awakes, but its key race is the Nestor and it is set at sea. The Nester are a wingless mutation of the Irelia, and have rebelled and left for the shores and ocean. Their inventive nature has seen them build boats and take to the sea, making creative use of the varied ocean life. However, in the ocean they discover the ferocious Kraken, the long-forgotten ancestors of the Colossi.

The gameplay is simpler than Colossus Awakes, focusing on moving ships into formations that allow for the use of cards. For example, you can pour blood the sea to draw the kraken, create a whirlpool to suck in enemy ships, or create a tidal wave with a line of ships (only for the other player to react and ride the wave to avoid being swamped and move to the other side of the map).

At present this is really just in its early stages as I've yet to print out rules or cards.