Table Top Game Prototype - Scorched Earth

One of the main reasons that I purchased a Forge was to be able to make game items. In particular it is a great tool for fast prototyping and creating custom components.

I’m working on a game design of my own for a game called Scorched Earth. Essentially I looked at the current hotness a few months ago, “Roll and Write” games (Yahtzee is a great example of an R&W) and said “what could I do to make something unique?” I decided to mix the mechanics of roll and write with those of a “4X” game.

For those that don’t know, a 4X game is a game that centers around 4 actions; Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate.

My game is Scorched Earth, a dystopian future in which warring factions explore the harsh wilderness for farm-able land, expand their settlements and fields, exploit the lands of their enemies, and exterminate their enemies when they have the opportunity. War causes terrible devastation however, and what was once barely farm-able can soon become Scorched Earth.

The idea was to make a very interactive roll and write, as most tend to be solitaire style games where you simply compare scores at the end. So I wanted a re-usable surface of tiles. I decided on white acrylic and after a few iterations ended up with six tiles of varying numbers of hexes per player. The player rolls their dice to see which of the four actions they may add to their tile, then places their tile to take those actions on the previously placed tiles.

Each player has their own color of dry-erase markers. Black “X” spaces represent land that has been scorched by the ravages of war. Initially, I used letters to represent the actions, and I went simple; A, B, C and D. It was fairly confusing however. In the game these represent settlements. The squiggly lines represent the fields, the combination of which make territories for each player. These territories are scored at the end of the game to see who wins.

Oh, white acrylic engraved and cut, then spray painted with the masking still on to make the dark lines.

I needed custom dice. My very first iteration was just Sharpie on the dice, but I soon decided to engrave dice using the forge. This jig I made worked “ok” and I had a single set of serviceable dice. But as I said before the letters were confusing, so I was looking for an alternative.

I received a lot of good feedback through play tests, and the mechanics of the game have evolved a lot since my first iterations.

I decided to do away with the black sharpie and use black cubes for scorched earth spaces. I also changed the fields from squiggles to three lines. That way a second player could “share” without having to mix marker colors.

And then I got access to Snapmark! I could create custom stickers with ease to create numerous combinations of dice!

So I did. I also changed to symbology, but these things would be difficult for players to draw, so I decided to move to tokens instead of dry-erase!

I made tokens for each player out of engraved acrylic, and replaced the scorched earth cubes with “X” tokens as well. Players still draw fields using the dry erase.

The table presence of the game improved dramatically (and it was already quite eye-catching) once I added the tokens. The gameplay also improved because players didn’t have to draw the shapes or write letters any more.

The dome with the windmill is a farm and represents the Expand action. In this image, there is also an observatory representing the Explore action and a tractor representing the Exploit action. The last token (not in this image, but visible in the previous and next images is a tank representing the Exterminate action.

My latest play test. I am nearly there. I just need to focus on a couple of issues. Primarily, a first player disadvantage, and a way to diversify the scoring so that there are a couple of paths to victory.


That looks really cool!


Visually inticing. I like it.


Sorry for the delay in descriptions. I uploaded the photos from my phone initially and then went in through my PC browser to add all the text. Much easier to type on a keyboard than screen.


Wow, very cool! It’s certainly been a labor of love for you. I wonder if for the dry erase parts you could also create rubber stamps with the appropriate figures on them, then stamp the tiles as needed? Just a thought. I’m sure there’s an inkpad out there that would work (I’ve got a bunch of different ones here, let me know if you’d like a test).


Non-permanent ink-stamps? That would be interesting to try.

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Love the little tokens! (Looks like a lot of fun.) :smile:

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from a consumer point of view; people don’t even like dry erase pens in their boardgames very much, let alone a special ink pad they would have to replace in multiple colours. As someone who backs far to many boardgame kickstarters I would skip one that needed a special ink pad.

edit: the tokens are cool but the scorched earth X’s are pretty lack luster compared to them and for being the name of the game they should be awesome. (ignore if they are just place holder and not what you plan for the final product)

@chadmart1076 Maybe replace them with some kind of explosion/mushroom cloud.


I don’t know about that. I appreciate a roll and write coming with the implements that are needed to play. And I really appreciate the ones that come dry-erase-ready. The pens themselves aren’t usually that good, but I can always use my own. The game Railroad Ink. for example is a great quality with dry erase-ready boards and it came with the pens as well.

Anyway, I do plan to replace the “X” tokens. They came out way more fragile looking than I expected, and now that everything else is iconized, that can be as well. I might do some kind of dual-color acrylic inlay… like a black center with an orange edge or something… so destroyed in the middle but still smoldering on the edges. :smiley:

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I more look at dry erase as a necessity of wanting a roll and write with a big board. If it was somehow economical I would 100% prefer a giant piece of paper. I’ve never played Quixx and gone “Man, I wish these were dry erase and not paper”

that sounds really cool for the tokens


Different things for different people I guess. I bought a laminator specifically so that I could dry erase ALL of my roll n writes!

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The prototype technique you use with this is awesome. Super cool.


Nice dice!


Good luck with your continued development

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good description of your game dev and how components relate to the game - thank you


I had a playtest last night with a new scoring method that was incredibly confusing. It produced much more acceptable scores, but ultimately was just too darn complex. Still working on it.

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Start working on a scoring app for phones. LOL


Hah! Having a large score sheet isn’t uncommon, but in my case it was truly an algebra problem to solve it. An app isn’t bad, but I personally don’t like mixing media in board games… so probably not. I will come up with a simpler method though.

Maybe the Forge-Mind can help?

Currently at the end of the game each player will have some number of score-able territories. A score-able territory consists of at least one facility (token) and one field (|||) or shared field that are adjacent to each other, so a minimum of two adjacent spaces. Initially, I had the number of unique facilities times the number of fields as the score for a territory. However, there wasn’t enough incentive for multiple territories and it was often best to just get the biggest possible territory to win. I decided to weight the fields so that shared fields were worth 1/2 the value of un-shared fields, so that original equation P = UF * F became P = UF (2F+1*SF).

(P=points, UF=Unique Facilities, F=Fields, SF=Shared Fields, DF=Duplicate Facilities).

There was still not enough incentive to have multiple territories, so I decided to penalize duplicate facilities. The equation became P=UF*(2F+1SF-2*DF). This produced a great balance between going big with one territory and trying to split up, with the best possible being three territories each with four facilities.

Any thoughts?

yea your first scoring is just the same as bunny kingdom. The only reason for lots of territories in that game is the special goal cards.

does it work without the SF math and just saying each DF is worth x number of negative points?

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