Make a SQR Game Set

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Introduction: Make a SQR Game Set

SQR is a puzzle and strategy game for one or two players. It can be played physically as a real board game and a free cell phone version is in the works. This instructable shows how we made a complete game set, including board and pieces (SQRs). http://www.ucgames.net/

Step 1: So, What's SQR?

SQR is a turn-based strategy game. It is played on a board made of square cells (though the board itself needn't be square). Each player uses a team of characters, the SQRs, to face an opponent. Each SQR is specialized: the warrior, for instance, can only attack SQRs placed next to it, while the sniper can attack SQRs several cells away.

If you take a look at the picture below, you'll see that the cells have different colours. Colour is crucial to SQR, since the SQRs need to be placed on a cell of their own colour to do anything other than move. There's a SQR, the painter, which turns cells to the player's colour(1). Black cells don't count: they could be removed from the board. As you see in the picture, each cell is a cube, a woodblock, with the faces painted in different colours. Therefore, changing the colour of a cell is simply done by lifting the cube, choosing the appropriate colour, and putting it back in place.

We - UCGames - are developing SQR as a free cell phone game, but some months ago we realized that it could also be played as a "physical" game. Since then we have developed two prototypes to try different board configurations and test gameplay -this is the second prototype. At present time it is one of a kind, so we'll show how we made it in case someone else wants to try building another :)

(1)for a full explanation of the rules, take a look here.

Step 2: Components of a SQR Set

In order to play a game of SQR Base, you'll need the following:

-Cells-- We decided on using an 8x8 cell layout, so that adds up to 64 cubes.
-Board-- The board holds the cubes in place while you play.
-SQRs-- The game pieces.
-Others-- Pucks and Blocks (they are made the same as the pieces).


Step 3: The Cells

The cells need to be cubic, that's all there is to it. A friend of mine works in a sawmill, so he got me 64 woodblocks for free, but you could buy them in amazon for instance. Best side size is around 3 cm (slightly bigger than 1inch), but a little smaller should be ok.

Each cube needs to be painted with one side white, one side black, one red and one blue. One of the cubes should have the red side marked with a white spot, and another cube should have the blue side marked in the same manner: those cubes will be the Bases.

Step 4: The Board- Made of Polystyrene

The Board is the structure that holds the cells in place. Since the cells are cubes, the board should provide enough empty spaces for them, and it is important that it has a smaller height than the cells so that they can be easily removed by hand.

There's a straightforward way to make the board:

-design a grid with the size you want here,
-print it in a piece of paper,
-make several copies of it,
-attach each one to a thin piece of polystyrene (depron-s),
-use a x-acto knife to cut the the grid,
-glue several grids on top of another to make the Board as high as you need.

The picture below show the first prototype we made: note that we used the cutouts from the grid to make the cells too :)

This technique is easy, cheap and allows you to use any cube size you want; however, it takes lots of time to cut all those grids and it is not very precise if you do it by hand (a laser cutter would be perfect for this task). We wanted to have a SQR set that looked as nice as possible and that we could replicate quickly and easily in case we needed several of them -for instance, if we organize a tournament-. Therefore, we moved on to...

Step 5: The Board- Made of Lego!

The polystyrene board worked fine, but we wanted to build a board that

-would look more professional than the polystyrene grid,
-would be easy and fast to make,
-would be as sturdy and durable as possible,
-would be as cheap as possible.

The answer to these questions came after a short while: we would make a rubber mold from a first "master" board, then make copies of it using the sturdiest and cheapest material available.

There was a problem, though: How could we make a master board in one piece with no seams, or gaps? ...

...

...

*several weeks of ... ... later*

Perhaps, Lego?

And so I gathered all the Lego blocks I had at home and built a first grid (see below). I was extremely lucky that the cubes fit perfectly inside, and I even made some fake lego blocks too. As you can see I ran out of flat cover pieces pretty soon, so I used the Lego digital designerLego digital designer application to make a 3D model of the Grid, and then I ordered only the top flat pieces.

The second picture shows the finished Lego Grid. Note that it has no base (you can see the table). All that there's needed to make a Lego Board is to add flat panels to cover the base.

The Lego Board looks really nice, but the blocks for a single board cost around 90 euros -I only needed the top flat blocks, and still I paid 20 euros for them-. Too expensive for "mass production", so we kept on with the plan and moved on to...

Step 6: The Board- Making a Mold From the Lego Master

Now that we had a master, we wanted to make a mold in order to replicate it. After some research we found Smooth On, specialized in mold making, and after even more research we found a reseller in Spain, From FX. I ordered a bucket of Mold Max 30, a very resistant, rubber compound.

In order to make a mold it is necessary to encase the master:

-first, I cut a polystyrene square to make the base of the board. since I was using thin depron-s sheets that I had form the first prototype, I cut two and glued them together to make the base thick.

-I put the base under the grid; then I cut a slightly bigger polystyrene square, put it below both the grid and base, and "attached" everything with duct tape. I also covered the sides with duct tape to cover all the exterior seams between blocks and give it a smooth look (see pictures below).

-I then "painted" all the grid and board with alkyl (two layers). This step is ESSENTIAL, otherwise the rubber will get in the seams between the Lego Blocks and also between the lego grid and the polystyrene base, thus ruining the mold (and the grid too, since the only way to remove the rubber is by undoing the grid). After this step the blocks will stay glued forever, alas!

-Finally, I cut some walls of the same polystyrene board I used for the base and made a frame to contain the rubber.

Now comes the most delicate part of the process: preparing and pouring the rubber in the frame.

-Mold Max comes in two parts that must be mixed 10 to 1 in weight for it to become active. The main part is white and the catalyzed red, so the mix results in a characteristic pink colour. It is extremely important to mix both components thoroughly, or the parts that didn't mix well may not cure properly.

-Before we poured the rubber, we sprayed the board with a release agent to ensure that we could remove the mold from the master with minimal effort later on.

-Pouring the rubber must be done in a proper manner so that no air gets entrapped. "A proper manner" actually involves degassing the mold, but in this case we poured the rubber slowly from the sides to the center and then prayed.

-In order to make the rubber mold for the board, we used some 4.5 kilos of rubber. Mold Max is expensive, but it is better to order more than it is needed than not ordering enough, believe me :P Same applies when pouring: prepare more rubber than you think you'll need, or you risk having to prepare more afterwards on the fly, which is not a good idea.

-The last pictures show the rubber in the frame, and the finished mold. If you take a close look a the pictures you'll see some small defects. Releasing the mold from the master took some time and some strenght, but the rubber showed up its properties and came off on one piece :)

-Now that we had the mold ready, we moved on to...

Step 7: The Board- Making a Copy From the Mold

After we had the rubber mold ready I wrote the people at Form FX (excellent customer support!, by the way!) and asked for the cheapest, strongest material available. They pointed me to Crystacal- Alpha K, which is a extremely hard plaster.

-Working with crystacal is fairly easy: measure the water you need, then pour the plaster, little by little, mixing thoroughly. In this case I wanted the plaster to remain liquid so that I could pour it easily on the mold, but not that much that it wouldn´t dry up, of course :P

-After the plaster had hardened, removing it from the mold puts the rubber to a test, and everything worked out fine. I don´t know how many copies will the mold resist without tearing, but it went through the first copy in perfect condition.

The pictures below show the finished piece before and after painting. I used a first layer of arabic gum to seal the plaster, then I painted it with two layers of black acrylic. Later on I made some experiments and it seems that I could actually have mixed the plaster with the black paint to get directly a shade of gray... anyways, I think that it looks pretty cool, and the layer of alkyl gave it a nice texture too.

Making a plaster board from the mold -safe the hahaharesearchhahaha costs- takes two days -most of the time waiting for the plaster and paint to dry- and around $10 in plaster.

By the way, the board is big, heavy and hard as a rock. _

Step 8: The Pieces

The last step to finish the SQR Game Set is making the game pieces. We decided to use basic shapes on purpose, so this is the easiest part:

-The first two pictures show some pieces made of polymer clay. We got some small cookie shapes, then cut them off a block of clay (three layers of the thickest setting in the pasta machine, stacked together), put them in the oven and finally add some gloss.

-The second two pictures show a CNC machine, a small Roland Modela MDX-3 that I got in ebay, machining the pieces out from a block of yellow polystyrene foam, and the machined pieces. This machine is incredible! In a similar fashion, when I made the first prototype I printed out the shapes, then I cut them from a polystyrene board. Actually you could just print and cut them from a piece of cardboard.

-The last two pictures show the finished set. Take a look to see the pieces you need, and if you like, visit us at UCGames! :)

Step 9: When Things Go Not So Well...

R+D, Research plus Destruction... the pictures ago show the failures that came along the process. Fortunately we learned from them, I guess!!

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    25 Comments

    I want to play this game, but even if I make a board I can't play because the instructions link dosen't work :(

    Psyha: Thanks for the remark, I already changed the link . If you take a look at the rules, I´d be happy to know what you think about them :) MrTrick: So far we have white for neutral, read and blue for the players, and black "for convenience". Black means "empty space", and actually we used to remove those cells in the first prototype. However, they take space outside, you can lose them, it takes time to put them back to place... so in the second prototype I painted a side of the cubes black so that they always stay in place, even when if don´t need them to play. If I understood you correctly, I believe that the method you describe actually corresponds with what I did for the first prototype -take a look at step#4-, only that I used polystyrene instead of cardboard, and since it was thin I had to cut four layers in order to get some height :P The problem with that technique is that it takes a long time to cut all the squares, and if done by hand is not very precise, not to menction that once you finish you have one board, and if you want another board you must do it all again. That´s why I decided to make a mold, so that I could make copies as quick and cheap as possible. btw, I don´t have many pictures of the building process for the first prototype, but if there´s enough intterest I could write another instructable about it. And thanks for the compliments! I wish the game went popular, but this board version is a kind of "side-effect" of the (free) cell phone game we are developing, so we don´t really know who to address to try commercialize it. For now, I was thinking on organizing a SQR-Base tournament, that could be a good idea...

    i am planning on running a game table at a convention sometime next year, i might be able to get a set or two and raise some interest for you. :) i really don't want this game to die, 'cause i think it looks awesome, it just hasn't become known yet.

    I can't seem to find your website, or the rules for that matter. could someone post a copy of the cell phone version on like a drop.io or somthing and post a link? I would realy apreciate it. :)

    I tried to play and had a few questions. I posted them over at BoardGameGeek.com. If you could have a look and let me know how the rules are meant to be played I would appreciate it. Thanks. I would still like to see this one published too. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/5190194#5190194 Kraken Fan #69

    very nice game, but the link to the rules is not working :(

     True... I'll see if I can rescue the instructions and post them in a new place.

    Pretty good. Very good in fact. I like the game itself, and I looked at your site a little bit. After reading the instructions on playing the game, I had some questions, but it sounds like you're not finished with design, so that's understandable. I did have one major question: can a player use more than one of each piece? For instance two healers? I think adding green and yellow players as well would open up some fun possibilities, but the board would need to be bigger. Maybe 12x12. If you continue to improve on the physical game design, which I sincerely hope you do, may I suggest a compartment for the pieces? And maybe a slight indent on the faces of the blocks to keep pieces from sliding off in case of young siblings. All things that can be done on our own if we want it, but if you come out with a commercial version, having it self contained (compartment for pieces, lid that keeps the blocks from falling out, etc.) would be a true bonus, and it would look more professional. One more thing, capture the flag would be amazing. You could even add a little hole in the side of each block and on the top of each piece to hold the flags. Anyway, back to what I meant to say: Great game and great Instructable. It's clear and easy to follow, and you even gave some examples on what can go wrong. And who else uses lego bricks in their manufacturing process!?! Seriously, this is awesome just for that!

    Thanks! :) -Using more than one of each kind: we allowed that in the cell phone game, but given the size limits of the plaster board we kept it simpler in the "physical version". -More colours, bigger size: you're right with that. I think it would be messy with a board this size, but it's totally possible. -Capture the flag: we call it "puck", but that's exactly the idea. -Lego: without it I don't think I would have finished the board. It's expensive though :P -Going commercial: I think the game would have chances to be popular if more people knew about it, but I'd have to find an investor willing to manufacture and market it, and I don't know even where to start... -Design improvements: I think I would base a redesign on electronics, using a monome-like board with bigger buttons. In order to cycle through the possible button colors, the players would only have to press on them. Unfortunately, a custom monome is out of my reach or budget :(

    I was wondering how the health of each piece would be recorded, an electronic version would solve that problem and just about any other you could imagine.

    As for going commercial:
    Start small; if there's a hobby-shop or game-store (card games, tabletop games, the one near me sells yo-yo's and the like) see if they'll sell it for you, or if you can sell it through them. It's a very limited market (people don't often go out of town for those sorts of things) but at that point you can truthfully claim that the game sells.

    A little bigger: There are a lot of contests and craft shows for puzzles and board games like this. If you can get into one of those, it should bring in more notoriety. I constantly see "winner of the puzzle design blah blah blah" when looking at those sorts of things.

    Investment: Maybe start with a little donation link on the website. You'd be surprised how much people will want to see this in toy stores.

    Now these things will all get the ball rolling, but more importantly it will show, if and when you go for larger investors, that the game is popular and can make money.

    One last thing, if you do sell at smaller toy stores, it may be necessary to tweak the manufacturing a little. I'd make molds for everything, the board, the blocks, the pieces, all of it. That way all you need to do is mix up some plaster, pour, and paint.

    I probably went a little far with the suggestions, I understand that the cell-phone game came first, and it's probably higher on the list of things to do, but I would love to see this thing take off as a board game as well. When is the cell phone game due for launch by the way?