While constructing the image for my last post (which referenced a print and play game that was smacked down for trademark violations), I went back to look at an earlier blog entry on print-and-play (PnP) games.  I soon realized that I’ve never actually discussed print and play games on this blog before. I knew that I had written about them. but I couldn’t find it on the site.

After researching my old notes, I realized that what I had written was part of a script for the old Gaming on a Budget show.  I found those notes, and decided to post them here.

One thing that I have discovered on BoardGameGeek is that you don’t need a lot of money to make your own games.  All you need is an idea and some way of getting that idea into a printable format.  Once you have these basic tools, you have everything you need to make a print-and-play game.

Print and play games are tabletop games that you print out from your own computer.  Though some publishers charge for their print and play games, many are made available for free to the public.  In this sense, they are the Flash games of the tabletop gaming world.

Like Flash games, print and play games generally do not have the production values, quality, or depth of their commercial counterparts.    And, like flash games, there are always exceptions to the rule.  Print and play games range from single player adventures, like Island of D, to combat card games like the 2002 game Age of Heroes, to fast paced strategies like Sumo!  What you get out of your print and play games depends largely on what you put into it.  Some people like to go all out with the graphics and piece design, while others keep the game simple and mundane.  But the potential is always there.

If you are a aspiring game designer with a shoestring budget, consider making your first attempt a print and play game.  It will take a minimal investment, and the feedback that you receive will teach you a lot about game mechanics.  And don’t worry; your first game WILL be bad.  Get over it and keep developing, and you will find that your games get better with time.

If you want to learn more about PnP games, check out the Print and Play Podcast.  It’s not the most exciting podcast, but the podcaster does a good job of describing the games’ strengths and weaknesses.