Game nights with family and friends are always more fun when you have quality board games to play. But what if you want to create your own customized game based on personal interests or memories? That’s where using a board game template comes in handy! With a template, you can make a game board, cards, game pieces, and other elements that allow you to turn your ideas into reality.
We’ve compiled some of the best free editable board game templates to help you get started. These high-quality templates provide the foundations, so you can focus on the fun stuff like themes, rules, design, and more. In this guide, you’ll find versatile templates to support different board game formats, from simple linear tracks to elaborate grid layouts. Discover how easy it is to craft a personalized board game when you start with a template. Let your inner game designer out and create something memorable for family game night or as a DIY gift. With the right templates, the possibilities are endless!
Table of Contents
What is a Board Game Template?
A board game template is a pre-made design that serves as the foundation for creating a custom board game. The template provides the basic layout and graphic elements needed for a game board, cards, pieces, rules, and other components. Board game templates typically include a blank game board consisting of squares, paths, and sections where the game creator can add original art, text, and imagery. Templates also often incorporate editable card layouts, game pieces, dice, rules pages, packaging designs, and other supporting visual assets.
Board game templates provide the core structure so developers can focus their efforts on developing gameplay mechanics, themes, graphics, and physical components. They allow anyone to easily create their own professional-looking games for entertainment, education, or business purposes without having to build a board and assets from scratch. With a quality template, custom board games can be brought to life quickly and easily.
Board Game Templates
Board games provide entertainment through competitive gameplay mechanics. The board game template establishes the foundational components needed to create a functional board game. This includes the game board, rules, playing pieces, cards, dice, and spinners.
The board game template allows game designers to focus on developing the unique elements of their game. They can devote effort to crafting an engaging theme, novel gameplay, and balanced mechanics while relying on the template for the essential physical parts. It provides a ready-made set of materials to build upon when creating a new board game. Following the standardized template results in a polished, complete game.
An effective board game template sets up creators for success. The basic parts curate an enjoyable gaming experience before factoring in the distinctive details. Players can become immersed in the strategy and competition facilitated by the standard template. Game designers can unleash their creativity to produce fun, strategic board games by implementing innovative ideas on top of the foundational template. This template allows for efficiency in game development and enjoyment during gameplay.
Conceptualizing Your Board Game Template
1. Determining the Theme or Setting
The theme or setting of your board game is the backdrop upon which all game mechanics, design, and storytelling elements are laid. This can range from historical events, futuristic space sagas, mythical lands, or even abstract concepts. A well-chosen theme not only provides context for the game’s actions but also serves as a magnet to attract a particular group of players. For instance, if your theme revolves around building ancient civilizations, it might attract players interested in history and culture. The theme should ideally resonate with the intended message or emotion you wish your players to experience. It should be rich enough to allow expansion, adjustments, and depth as your game evolves. A good theme can make the difference between a game that is simply played and one that is truly lived.
2. Target Audience
Your target audience defines not just who plays your game but how they play it. Identifying your primary audience can help in tailoring game complexity, duration, aesthetics, and even the narrative.
- Family: Board games designed for families often prioritize accessibility and inclusivity. These games typically have simpler rules, shorter play times, and more universal themes.
- Casual Gamers: These players may not invest in heavy strategy games but are looking for more depth than simple party games. Game mechanics are generally straightforward but offer layers of strategy for those who seek them.
- Enthusiasts: For the dedicated board game enthusiasts, depth, strategy, and replayability are paramount. These games often have intricate mechanics, longer play durations, and a steep learning curve.
3. Core Mechanics
The core mechanics form the heartbeat of your board game. They dictate the pace, the player’s decisions, and the overall flow of the game.
- Strategy: Games focusing on strategy often allow players to plan several moves ahead, rewarding foresight and tactical decisions. The players’ choices can have long-term consequences, making each decision crucial.
- Luck: Games with a luck element often involve dice, cards, or other randomizing elements. These games can be unpredictable and offer an ever-changing game environment.
- Memory: Memory-based games challenge players to recall previously revealed information. They can test and train a player’s memory capacity, often introducing a blend of tension and excitement.
4. Game Objectives and Win Conditions
The game objectives give players a purpose, a clear path or multiple paths to tread upon. These objectives can be competitive, where players race against each other, or cooperative, where players work together against the game itself.
- Victory Points: A common win condition in many board games is the accumulation of victory points. Players can earn these points in various ways, depending on the game’s mechanics, such as controlling territories, completing objectives, or collecting resources. The player with the most points at the end (or when a certain condition is met) wins.
- Elimination: In elimination-based games, players strive to outlast their opponents. This could mean depleting their resources, conquering their territories, or achieving a specific in-game status that results in other players’ elimination.
- Completion: These games have a set objective, such as solving a puzzle, reaching a destination, or building a particular structure. The first to achieve the objective or the most efficient in doing so usually wins.
- Survival: In cooperative board games, players often work together to survive against external challenges. Winning means overcoming these challenges before a lose condition is met, like running out of time or resources.
Game Components and Elements
1. Game Board Design
A game board is often the centerpiece of any tabletop game. It provides a spatial representation of the game’s universe and is crucial in defining the game’s flow. Factors to consider include:
- Layout and Pathways: Depending on your game’s theme and mechanics, decide if players move in linear paths, branching paths, or open-world exploration.
- Aesthetic and Theme Consistency: The board’s design should echo the game’s theme, whether it’s an interstellar galaxy, a medieval kingdom, or a modern city.
- Information Clarity: Ensure that any vital zones, like scoring areas or resource banks, are clearly demarcated. Symbols and icons should be intuitive.
- Durability and Material: Consider the board’s material quality. It should be sturdy and resistant to wear and tear.
2. Game Pieces
Pieces represent players, resources, obstacles, or other elements within the game universe.
- Pawns: Simple and often used to denote players’ primary presence on the board.
- Tokens: These can represent in-game resources, money, or other collectibles. Their design should be distinct and easy to identify.
- Miniatures: Detailed figurines that can serve as player avatars or important in-game elements. While they add depth and aesthetic value, they can also increase production costs.
Cards are versatile components that can hold a plethora of information or serve various functions.
- Types: Cards can be character cards, event triggers, resources, challenges, or any other game element.
- Sizes: Standard card sizes make for easier shuffling and handling, but unique sizes can add novelty. Ensure a good card stock quality regardless of size.
- Design Considerations: Card artwork should be thematic. Ensure text is legible, and avoid information overload. It’s also important to consider the card’s back design for games where the element of surprise is crucial.
4. Dice, Spinners, and Other Randomizers
These elements introduce unpredictability into the game.
- Dice: From the standard six-sided dice to multi-faced ones, dice can determine movement, outcomes of battles, or resource generation. Custom dice can have symbols instead of numbers.
- Spinners: They offer a visual and tactile way to randomize outcomes. Design considerations include the spinner’s resistance, size, and the clarity of sections.
- Other Randomizers: Bags filled with tokens, drawing lots, or even apps can serve as randomizers, depending on the game’s needs.
5. Player Aids
These components assist players in understanding and navigating the game.
- Score Pads: Useful in games with complex scoring mechanisms or when scores need to be tallied over several rounds.
- Reference Cards: These summarize rules or provide quick information, ensuring players don’t constantly refer to the rulebook.
- Resource Banks or Trays: Organized storage for game pieces or cards can expedite game setup and play.
How to Make Your Own Board Game
Making your own customized board game is an exciting way to bring family and friends together for game night. While it may seem complicated, the process can be broken down into a few key steps:
Step 1: Brainstorm and Conceptualize
Begin by brainstorming your game’s core concept. Consider the type of experience you want players to have. Do you want a strategy-heavy game, a party game, a trivia game, or something entirely different? Think about what makes your favorite board games enjoyable. Jot down the primary goals, the kind of players, and possible mechanics. It’s okay if this stage is a bit messy; the goal is to get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper.
Step 2: Define the Game’s Objective
Every board game needs a clear objective. Whether it’s collecting the most points, reaching a specific location, or eliminating other players, this goal will guide your players’ decisions throughout the game. Ensure the objective is clear, achievable, and challenging enough to keep players engaged. The balance is key; too easy, and players get bored; too hard, and they’ll become frustrated.
Step 3: Design the Game Mechanics
Game mechanics are the rules and systems that dictate how your game is played. This includes player actions, how turns progress, and how players interact with the board and each other. Consider elements like dice rolls, card draws, movement mechanics, and player abilities. This stage may require lots of testing and adjusting. Create a basic prototype using paper, dice, and any other materials to start trying out these mechanics.
Step 4: Develop Game Components and Layout
Consider what physical components your game will need. This might include a game board, cards, dice, playing tokens, money, or any other specialized pieces. Design a preliminary game board layout. Remember, your board and components should aid in the overall understanding and playability of the game. Make sure they are intuitive and fit the theme or narrative of your game.
Step 5: Create the Game Rules
Draft a set of clear, concise rules. It’s vital that players can quickly understand how to play, what they can and can’t do, and how to win. As you draft, be mindful of potential loopholes or unclear language. Having others read your rules and provide feedback can help ensure clarity. Remember, the best rulebooks often include examples or illustrations for more complex points.
Step 6: Prototype and Playtest
Using your designed components, make a more refined prototype. This doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should give a good representation of the final product. Now, playtest your game. This means playing it multiple times, with different people, adjusting rules and mechanics as you go. This is a critical phase, as it allows you to identify and fix problems before the final version.
Step 7: Refinement
Based on feedback from playtesting, refine your game. This might mean adjusting rules, changing the game board layout, adding or removing components, or tweaking game mechanics. This step can be repeated multiple times until you’re satisfied with the game’s flow and balance.
Step 8: Final Design and Artwork
Once your game’s mechanics and rules are solidified, focus on the visual design. This can involve hiring an artist or using software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Your game’s visual appeal can greatly enhance the gaming experience, so ensure it complements the theme and mechanics of the game.
Step 9: Production
Consider how you’ll produce your game. Will you hand-make copies, or will you seek a manufacturer? There are companies that specialize in board game production. If you’re looking to sell your game, think about packaging, quality of materials, and cost per unit.
Step 10: Promotion and Distribution
If you aim to sell your game, consider how you’ll get it into the hands of players. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter can be beneficial for board game creators. Additionally, you can attend board game conventions, partner with local game stores, or sell online.
With this collection of high-quality board game templates, you now have the foundations to create a customized game from scratch. Whether you want to make a trivia game for family night or an educational game for the classroom, these templates provide the perfect starting point. We’ve included templates for game boards, cards, spinners, game pieces, boxes, and instructions so all the elements are covered. Pick a format that matches your vision, download the templates, and add your own flair through images, text, color schemes, and more.
With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless! Use these templates again and again whenever inspiration strikes to bring new board game ideas to life. Don’t forget to come back and browse for more templates if you ever need a fresh start. We hope these editable templates will unlock your creativity and get your custom game designs rolling. The only thing left is gathering friends and family to playtest your creation. Have fun and happy game making!
What materials are recommended for printing my game after using a template?
For prototypes, regular paper and cardstock can suffice. However, for a more durable and professional-looking game, consider printing on high-quality cardstock, laminating game boards, and using professional card printing services for playing cards.
Do board game templates come with artwork?
Some templates come with generic artwork or placeholder images, while others might be more plain. If you’re serious about creating a polished final product, consider hiring an artist or using graphic design software to customize the artwork and make your game visually appealing.
Can I sell a game I’ve created using a template?
Yes, as long as the template is licensed for commercial use. It’s essential to check the licensing agreement of the template you’re using. Some are free for personal use but require a fee for commercial purposes. Always ensure you have the rights to use and modify the template, especially if you plan to sell the end product.
Are board game templates restrictive to creativity?
Not necessarily. While a template provides a foundation, it’s up to the creator how much they wish to customize or deviate from it. Many templates are designed to be adaptable, allowing for significant alterations to fit the creator’s vision.
Why should I use a board game template?
Using a template can save time and provide guidance, especially if you’re new to game design. It ensures you don’t overlook important components, provides a cohesive design aesthetic, and allows you to focus on game mechanics and content rather than the foundational structure.