You don't have to be a board game designer to enjoy the fun of constructing and playing your own game. There are many free games available on the Internet that allow you to download the rules and any special graphics that you need, then put the game together with common supplies and cardboard. Try one of the following board games that provide both a fun project to complete and a new family game to play.
Download and print Crossing Pawns, a two-player abstract game suitable for ages 8 and up. Each player places and moves pawns on a four-by-four grid, trying to line up four pawns in a row. It's a quick and simple strategy game much like Connect Four, in which careful planning and movement are required to win the game.
This game can be played with existing pieces from a checkers or chess set, or you can make your own simple grid to play on. Kids will enjoy creating a playing grid and decorating it with their favorite colors or themes before actually sitting down to play the game.
If you need help downloading any of these printables, check out these helpful tips.
The Last Slice
The Last Slice is an educational game for two to four players, suitable for ages 8 and up. Each player uses a hand of cards to create fractions and claim slices of pizza. Players get points for figuring out how to manipulate the fractions and take the last slice of each pizza. When all the pizza is gone, the player with the most points wins the game.
You can build this game by printing out the pizzas and cards and attaching them to cardstock. You can also use part of a standard deck of cards instead of creating your own cards.
Your Board Game Construction Kit
If you're going to download and construct a printable board game, you should have some basic supplies on hand. Here are some parts that are useful in many games:
- Cardboard and glue for making the board
- Cardstock for making decks of cards
- A chess board for games that require a simple grid
- Chess pawns, checkers, glass stones, and poker chips for tokens and pieces
- Decks of standard playing cards
- Play money
You'll also want some boxes to keep your creations in. A pizza box can do double duty as both a game box and a game board, if it hasn't already had pizza in it.
Other Printable Game Resources
After you've tried your hand at these games,try some other sites where you can download new games.
Board Game Geek
Board Game Geek is a website that provides information on thousands of board games. While most of these games are professionally published, there is a selection of free printable board games. There is a "geeklist" that keeps track of the games available on the site, but here are some of the best games to download.
- 1000 Blank White Cards: This is a card game that you build while you play. After downloading a basic set of rules and templates, you mix blank cards into your deck and add your own rules. The game is suitable for up to six players, and the recommended age is 10 and up. You'll need plenty of cardstock to make your blank cards with.
- Canvas Eagles: This easy World War I dogfighting game can be played with up to 10 players. The recommended age is 12 and up. You'll need cardboard for maps and counters. If you want a fancy set you can build your own model planes, but you don't need them to play.
- Peep War: This game for 2 to 6 players plays a lot like Risk, but you get to eat the pieces! This recommended age is 10 and up, and you'll need lots of Marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans.
Educational websites are a great source for printable board games, and Teachertools offers a variety of games involving strategy, action, or trivia. They are colorful and appropriate for both family and classroom use. Some highlights include:
- Awithliknanni: This Zuni Indian strategy board game plays like a combination of checkers and pente. It's for 2 players ages 8 and up. The creators recommend laminating the paper board, and glass stones make excellent pieces.
- EduBall: This educational game pits two teams in a game of "football" played by answering trivia questions. The board and pieces can be made with cardboard, and the game is appropriate for reviewing information in any classroom setting.
- Yote: This two-player African board game is similar to checkers. It can be played with a standard checkers set, or you can can use cardstock to build your own board and pieces.
Customize and Create
The best part of constructing your own board games is that you can change them. If there's a rule you don't like, you can try a variation. If you think the game would benefit from a new kind of piece, why not make one and put it in? Have fun building and tweaking your games, and who knows? You may be creating your own games next.