Introduction: Waldschattenspiel

About: Mad scientist, woodworker, creative evil, artist, tinkerer, father of five creative hooligans.
Waldschattenspiel (shadows in the forest) is an enchanting German board game created in the 80's where a candle moves around the forest trying to freeze gnomes in the light. Although you can still purchase the game in Europe, I decided to make my own version of the game.

After darkness falls across the land, light your votive candle and gather around the game board. One person plays the candle while the rest of the players pick a gnome. Randomly place the trees around the game board (casting shadows for the gnomes to hide in.) The gnomes should start behind different trees -- the objective is to get all of the gnomes behind one tree.

The candle rolls one dice and moves in one direction around the board, only changing direction at a crossroads.  If a gnome is illuminiated by the candle, it's enchanted (frozen) until another gnome can rescue it. After the candle moves, the player must turn around and allow the gnomes to move in the shadows. Gnomes can only move in the darkness and cannot cross the light. If all of the gnomes are frozen, the candle wins. If all of the gnomes end up behind the same tree, the gnomes win.

To make your own version of the game you'll need the following:
  • 17" x 21" piece of plywood
  • 1/4" luan
  • Air dry clay or Sculpy
  • Votive candle
  • Acrylic paint

Step 1: Gnomes

You can make gnomes out of just about anything. Be creative! Carve them out of wood, use nuts and bolts, shape them out of Super Sculpy, make hats out of felt - whatever works best for you. I had each one of my kids make and paint their own gnome out of air dry clay.

The gnomes should be about 1.5" tall. Shape a body, head, and a hat (of course). Once they dry completely, paint them with acrylic paint.

Step 2: Trees

I made my trees out of luan since I work primarily with wood. If you don't have a table saw, mitre saw, and band saw, you can make your trees out of cardboard or plastic. Since you're making your own version of the game, you're the boss.

You'll need to make:
  • 3 small trees (2.5" x 3")
  • 4 medium trees (4" x 3")
  • 3 large trees (5" x 3")
To make my trees, I first set my table saw to 3" and ripped a bunch of luan down. Cutting all of the pieces at once ensures that they are all the same width.

Next, I set a stop block on my mitre saw and cut the different tree heights; small, medium, and large. Remember that you'll need 2 pieces for each tree so cut 6 small pieces, 8 medium, and 6 large.

Using the band saw, I cut the the edges of the trees forming triangles.

On each triangle, make a mark at the half way point. Using another piece of luan on it's edge, mark the area that you'll need to cut out -- for each tree, you'll need to cut out a top and bottom part to allow the pieces to slide together. Cut this on the band saw making cuts on each side and then continual cuts until the middle is completely gone. Take your time, be careful, and use eye protection.

Once all of the cuts are complete, assemble your trees to ensure that everything fits. Make adjustments with sandpaper as necessary.

Finish up by painting with acrylic paint (check your fit after the pieces are dry -- I had trouble making mine fit.)

Step 3: Game Board

You'll need a game board that is at least 17" x 21". I used a piece of 3/4" plywood so that it would be sturdy on carpeted floors. However, it's not very portable. If you end up using plywood, be sure to cover the edges with pine, poplar or some other type of hardwood.

You can be creative when painting the pathways or just use the original pattern. Be sure to leave space for the trees (they shouldn't cover the path.) The circles should be about the diameter of the votive candle.

I ended up airbrushing the board, using real leaves to add decoration. I also found a cool stencil to do the lettering. Again, the sky's the limit here. Imagine a snowy board, or Dagobah, or a metal world with robots with lasers and...well just do something awesome!

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