So your desk is full of 3D printed novelty Yodas, Owls and T-Rex Skulls that collecting more dust then they do looks. Its time to bring some practicality and usability to your prints. It’s time you started 3D printing your own table top games.
Dozens of great 3D printable games are scattered across the internet, but until now they have been tricky to find, and even harder make sense of. There is no need to waste precious plastic on a lousy game. This article will help you discover some hidden treasures, give you some tips for printing them, and than help you get the most out of the hobby. By the time you finish, you will be recycling your old 3D printed paper weights to make room for your new 3D printed games.
What better way to introduce 3D printable games than by sharing some of the best? To do so, I have broken my favorite games into 3 categories; 3D originals, traditional re-mixes and supports pieces. Let’s not waste any more time and take a closer at each category.
These are games that are only available as 3D printable files.
- Seej by Zheng3 – Build and battle with your 3D printed catapults. The options are ever expanding.
- Pocket Tactics by Ill Gotten Games – From the creator of some of the first 3D printed games comes a classic strategy board game that has become the standard for 3D printable games.
- TARDIS Run by Joseph Larson – How could the 3D printed board game category exist without a Doctor Who themed game?
These traditional games have been brought back from sands of time in a way their original creators would have never imagined. And guess what… they they are way more exciting than 3D printed chess.
- Tablut by Eric L. – A Viking precursor to chess featuring a lop-sided distribution of forces.
- Gobble By Peter Kitzmiller – A spin off of the popular board game “Gobblet”
- Palago Tiles by Tony Sherwood – Turn 48 identical tiles into a fun game.
There are many great games that are now seeing some great 3D prints enhance their appeal. From RPGs to war games, there is a rising number of excellent game support pieces.
- Openforge by Devon Jones – Journey into endless possibilities in your next RPG game.
- D&D Miniatures by Miguel Zavala – Add some life to your next game of D&D.
- Wargame Scenery by Printable Scenery – While you will have to drop some money on their 3D files, you won’t find anything finer to 3D print.
I’m going to assume you have some experience 3D printing. There is a myriad of resources available to learn the art of 3D printing. I’m going to offer a few tips unique to 3D printing board games.
1. Read the rules before printing
This is the best way to figure out if a game is worth printing. It’s not uncommon for 3D printed games to have vague rules that make the game difficult to play. A quick read through will help you get a feel for the game. Many game designers in this space are open to feedback if you have questions about the rules, and often times you can clarify uncertainties with a quick email.
2. Find games with pictures of actual prints
This is not an uncommon piece of advice for people looking to print something, but even more so for 3D printable games. If you can tell a game has been printed, you can be relatively certain that someone has played it. On sights like thingiverse, you can reach out to people that have made it and ask them what they thought.
3. Watch out for beta versions
I have seen quit a few beta version of games floating around. Sometimes they are not mark very well. Keep an eye out for them, but don’t let them stop you from printing them. Often times designers are looking for feedback, and you can get involved in a fun community. Recently, Adrian Croft launched a beta version of his game Windswept and is looking for play testers. Check it out and add your thoughts.
4. Paint you games (Optional)
This is totally optional, and often times you can achieve a colorful effect with a variety of filaments. I always think that a little bit of color goes a long way.
Of course all games are different, so it would be to go over rules and tactics, however; I would like to share a couple tips to make you playing experience even better.
To me, one of the most compelling things about 3D printing is its ability to customize anything. When printing and playing a 3D printed game there is no longer a need to be constrained by the manufactures parts and components. Currently, the company leading the charge in game customization is HeroForge. They let you 3D print you own customized minis for RPG games.
Even with companies like HeroForge you need not constrain your creativity. Some of the most interesting game pieces I have seen are mashups of 3D files other people have already published.
Adapt the rules
Just as you shouldn’t feel constrained by the game pieces you use, you shouldn’t feel constrained by the rules you are using. Now, before all your games turn into Calvin Ball, I recommend you develop your rules in iterations with a group of people that are looking to have a good time.
Make your own
You are no longer restrained to play games published by other people. If you are reading this, I’m sure you have a maker spirit, so use it to make great games. As you print and play many games you will find themes and mechanics that inspire you. Build on those ideas to make some truly amazing things.
If you are really serious about creating you own games, if might be worth your time checking out a game system call Open Board Game. Open Board Game is a system that uses 3D printable hexes to create modular terrain. It is a great foundation for a world of possibilities.
The 3D printed game community is growing, and now its your turn to keep it moving forward. Now go. and 3D print a game and don’t forget to share.