Introduction: Moraff's Stones - the Board Game!

About: A jack of all trades and master of none is better than a master of one!

Stones is an old DOS game created by Steve Moraff in 1990 as a part of his Moraff's World series of adventure games. It is a gambling/ trading game where you are pitted against monsters in a tavern, trying to earn the strongest hand. It is a four person game and it is fun for most age levels, so it should make for a great family game.

I grew up playing DOS games, so after indulging my fond memories and playing for hours on end, I had a stroke of genius. "Why not make it a real board game!?" No more playing against the computer and with a dealer who insults you can play with friends and family! (I guess there could still be some insults). Research has shown me that Stones is based off of a card game, but there is no whimsy to that so I decided to stay true to the monsters, the stones, and the medieval feel.

I recommend the computer game for anyone to play, especially if you also have a soft spot for DOS games. You may download and play the game here! (they also have lots of other free DOS games you can play). You may need to download a DOS emulator to get the game to work on newer computers so I reccommend DOS BOX.

This project took longer to plan and design than it did to actually build as I strove to create both an asthetic and a functional game. I went through a lot of different designs and scrapped a lot of the intial builds as I muddled my way through design ideas. Unfourtunately I changed my altered my project so often that I was not able to keep track of my progress very well. This instructable will be a bit more geared towards how to go about designing a non-traditonal board game. I hope I will inspire people to create their own game and get a sense of what it takes to design your own game from scratch.

Step 1: Choose Your Packaging

It is was very important to me to choose the packaging first, as it would determine my size limitations for the rest of the game. From here on out, everything I designed would need to fit in this little chest.

This is a non-traditional board game in the sense that its not actually a fold out cardboard playing surface. Since I didn't have to worry about getting a large cardboard box that would fit a board, I had the ability to get a lot more creative with my packaging. Since the game is set in a medieval style tavern I decided I wanted to use traditional materials like wood and metal.

I chose the chest because it was very portable, compact, and has an amazing visual presence. You can't look at a tresure chest and not think of adventure and mystery. I also wanted the game packaging to be recognizable without actually putting the name of the game anywhere on the outside, making it a fun discovery for those who find it and investigate it.

The chest itself was very easy to find, I got this one from Michaels for around $16. I then took the time to stain the main body a nice rich redwood color and then I sealed the whole chest for durabilty.

Step 2: Making the Player Boards

Now that I have my container for the game, I needed to design player boards that would fit into it. This was no easy task and one of the hardest elements I had to design. I had to consider being able to make the boards as big as possible while still being able to get them in and out of the chest.The inside of the chest was rather small and I needed as much space as possible to be able to fit all the stones.

Each player gets their own board, and they even get to choose what fun monster they want to be. Technically in the computer game you play as a human, but I thought it was more fun if everyone got to be a monster instead. I made the monster arms out of sculpy and I designed them to be able to hold the stones as part of an element of the game.

I stuck with the theme of using wood to make the boards. Cut, sanded, stained, and assembeld. The pads for the stones are made out of leather disks and painted with gold spray paint. The hidden stone set-up was made using fancy scrapbooking paper and cut aluminum from old soda cans (also spray painted gold) I will go into more detail about the metal edging I did in step 7.

My biggest hurdle of the player boards was the hidden compartment for keeping prying eyes off your stones. I had to balance the size, the accesibilty of the pieces, and the amount of coverage I could get. I found it difficult to find a collapsible design that would leave enough space for the pieces and was tall enough that the players could actually grab the pieces. After a few weeks of designs, I finally hit on the perfect layout. It was also, by far, the simplest design. Its amazing how complicated you can get trying to solve problems sometimes. It always goes back to just keep it simple.

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Step 3: Making the Turn-counter

When you play the game, there are twelve trades in a hand. So I needed a way to keep count of each trade as they happen that would be compact, accurate, and still fit the theme. Size was the biggest issue as I have very limited space sicne the boards almost completely fill up the chest. 

After many, many designs I ended up with the 'abacus' style of keeping track of the counting. Each trade that happens, you move one of the hardware nuts across the toothpick to the other side. This design allowed me to keep it small, continue to use the theme wood and metal, and make it fun to keep track of the trades. Its awfully satisfying to slide the hardware nuts over with the little toothpick sword I made. 

Step 4: Making the Stones

When you play the computer game, each of the stones have a different shape. The jewels are nice and smooth and the gold and silver are lumpy nuggets. As much as I wanted to stay true to the game, I knew that if the stones where different textures, players would cherry-pick the good ones as they drew their stones. Since they all had to feel the same, I went with glass beads (the kind you can use in vases and center pieces).

I bought a bag of clear blue flat-bottomed beads; that way, I didn't have to change anything for the jewels. Then I simply spray painted the gold and silver ones using Rust-oleum's hammer metal spray paint. I loved the effect the hammered metal made, gives them a lot more texture detail while keeping them uniform. I also have 4 force stones as a part that I intruduced to the game (they are explained in the instructions) and I spray painted them red.

There are 40 stones total,(twelve for each type of stone and four force stones) so one bag of glass beads should be more than enough. I found mine at the dollar store so it was a pretty good bargain. 

And yes, I used a classy Crown Royal bag to carry the stones. Not only is it the perfect size, but it has that nice royal purple color. Really, any bag would do though. 

Step 5: Making a Spinner

You saw the little toothpick sword earlier being used with the trade counter. Guess what? Its also a spinner!

In order to choose who gets to go first, the game uses a spinner. The sculpy handle off-sets the weight perfectly to give it a satisfying spin. 

I also came up with an alternative of using 4 stones in a little bag. 3 of the stones are blue and 1 of the stones is clear. Whoever randomly draws the clear stone gets to go first. 

Step 6: The Instructions

The computer game takes care of a lot of the rules, scores, and counting. It took some doing to break down the rules and translate them for real world play. I only made a few alterations to the game, mostly the scoring system, and I also steamlined the explinations. The pamphlet of the rules is provided at the beginning of the instructable. I have tested the rules with friends and family and so far I have no run into any problems. 

I enhanced instructions pamphlet using the time tested technique of tea-staining the paper.  I crumpled the paper to make creases, distressed the edges, stained it with a tea bag, and baked it in the oven. Its all about the details.

Side note: I found when tea-staining the paper that the black printer ink held just fine,however, the colored ink pretty much completely washed away.

Step 7: Mini-instructable!

I'm going to do a mini instructable here on how I did the detailed edge of the game board. Not only am excited about my design, I also managed to take a nice sequence of pictures of it. 

 Since I only used thick paper for the body of the cover, I needed a way to give it a bit more strength. I also wanted to integrate a metal element to the game board.

The metal I used is just aluminum from some soda cans. I cut out the large middle section, flattened it out, and painted it with the same hammered gold spray paint I used on the stones. 

I started out by cutting nice strips of foil, twice the width you want them to appear, since you'll need to fold it in half later. Then trimming points on the ends of the foil so that they make nice angled corners. B y folding it ihalf it gives it more strenght and so it will be able to pinch the paper. I found it easier to fold it across the edge of a ruler in order to keep the edge clean and straight. I was afraid that folding the spray paint would cause it to flake or show signs of stress, but it molded with the foil perfectly. 

I took a hammer, with soft leather on the head to avoid marring the foil, and flattened the foil down onto the paper. The last thing you need to do then is punch dents into the foil to keep it 'stapled' to the paper, for this I just used a screw I had handy. This not only helps hold it together, but gives it a nice rivited look. You shouldn't have to use any glue or tape. 

Step 8: Have Fun and Play!

Thats how you design and build a completely unique and eye cathcing game to play with friends and family!

Thank you and enjoy!

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