Handmade Games

I suppose that every game starts out as the handmade creation of the inventor, which eventually becomes a standardized and mass produced product; but sometimes the commercial versions of games are not available,  too expensive, or just not nice enough for a devoted player..  This page is devoted to a gallery of  unique solutions to such problems.

pinko pallino
Pinko Pallino
Pinko Pallino is the original, larger version of the game sold as Quoridor in the U.S.   Pinko Pallino is hand crafted in Italy and is unavailable in the US.  This board was crafted by Greg Schmidt using some nice wood and salvaged bits of aluminum, using tools most of us don't have access to.   What's a "scroll saw?".
Commercial Board
lasercut chase
This nifty dice-as-playing-pieces game has been out of print for ages.  It's fairly easy to make your own board, and dice are easily obtainable, but this laser etched version is a cut above the norm for a handmade game.
commercial chase
                breakthru board
Handmade Breakthru
Breakthru is an interesting strategy game which was part of the 3M bookshelf series.   I discovered the game while I was in high school, probably when it was originally issued.  The commercially produced set is elegant, with cast metal brass and steel pieces.  It was also much too expensive for me at the time - about $50 if I remember correctly.  So I made my set own using wood, ceramic tiles,  armies salvaged from a Risk game, and a sewing thimble.

commercial breakthru board
3M Breakthru
handmade magnetic tantrix
Magnetic Tantrix
Tantrix is a boardless, tile based game which is packaged in a bag.  It's very portable, but impossible to play on a surface smaller than a table.  It's especially not suitable for playing on planes.  I made my own magnetic set, starting with a photo of the set of tiles, manipulated with photoshop, printed as an 8x10 glossy by an on line photo service.  The photo was glued to a piece of refrigerator magnet material and cut up into tiles.  The board is  the cover of a 3-ring binder with a piece of steel stuffed inside to make it magnetic.
table tantrix
standard Tantrix
torus Go
toroidal Go board
Go is one of the oldest board games, which has been played in pretty nearly its current form for 4000 years. Despite the long history, it's still possible to think of a new twist.   At the left is a "standard" 19x19 Go board constructed by Ken Clements, in the shape of a torus.   Each intersection of the wire frame is welded, and each bead (stone) is cross cut so it can be stuck to an intersection of the board.   This is the obvious solution for those who don't have the patience to study corner Joseki.
standard Go board.
soma cube "altar"
Handmade Soma Cube "Altar"
Soma Cube
The Soma cube is an elegant solid puzzle, consisting of 7 irregular pieces which can be assembled into a cube or an infinite variety of other interesting shapes.  The standard commercial product is small and made of plastic.  For some, that is just not a large enough canvas.  The handmade version at the left is made of welded steel plates.  The "small" cubes are approximately 60cm on each side.  The giant soma cube set was created by theater professor Thurston James at Immaculate Heart College, ca 1972.  The installation seen here was not anticipated or condoned by the administration of the college.
some cube "altar"
 standard Soma Cube "Altar"
                zertz set
handcrafted Zèrz
Among commercially produced games Zèrz is probably among the easiest to  build your own  set .  The standard utilitarian method seems to use steel washers as rings, but I thought this example by "Angusbull" at BGG was particularly stunning.
standard zertz
standard Zèrtz set
handmade hive
handmade Hive
At a distant point in the difficulty spectrum from Zèrz, Hive requires a lot of effort.  BGG matthew.marquand spent many hours wood burning and hand painting a duplicate set.
standard hive set
standard Hive
handmade hex
handmade Hex
Commercially produced versions of Hex are rarely seen, but hexagonal tiles of various materials are not too hard to find.  Go stones are the most common markers.
standard hex
commercially produced Hex
handmade Trippples
Trippples is an interesting game because of its elegant layout scheme (all possible directions for 3 arrows) and the twist in the rules: that the directions you can move are under your opponents piece.   The standard edition is uninspiring moulded plastic.  Wooden editions do exist, but this custom wooden creation by Derek H. Hunt is miles above anything available commercially.
tripples commercial
standard Trippples
truchet board
Truchet tiles have a simple pattern which can be used to tile a plane, which yields a pattern of islands and rivers.   As implemented here, the tiles are reversable, which reconfigures the board as part of play.
No commercial boards exist
handmade prototype
Cookie Disco
Like most games, Cookie Disco started life as a handmade prototype, then graducated to a small batch of handmade games for sale, before going commercial on a modest scale.  The thought of cookies made of fine wood doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is pretty!

commercial version

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