With a dice game and a card game in the bag, I thought it was prudent to make a board game...


Line Wars


Line Wars is a game designed to be played on a piece of paper with a black, blue, and red pen. It's a territory capturing game, like Go, but players draw around their territory instead of placing pieces.

Lien Wars Rulebook 


The Good

This is another half-finished games that I designed in a bar a few years ago. I even started making a digital version but figuring out the algorithm to correctly make groups of territory was beyond me at the time. This time since I only had a week, I focused purely on trying to solidify the rules and make sure it's balanced for both players.

The biggest change I made was making the board bigger: 7x7 gave a lot more room for strategy than 5x5. I also debated allowing players to 'pass through' straight lines that their opponent made or not. I thought it might be a mistake, but it ended up being great for more strategic depth, as players can't just draw straight to the edges each turn anymore (meaning Blue going first, would almost always win).

Having the Red player draw more lines than Blue on their first turn also added a slice of complexity that would have been nice to avoid, but I didn't want to just awards post-game points like Go, otherwise it would game after game of Blue always appearing to win, but Red getting enough free points to steal it, which never feels great for either player. I think I found a good solution that either player can overcome with strategy.

The Bad

Not enough playtesting. I didn't have any friends over to play, so it was basically me playing myself, which catches some of the most obvious problems, but doesn't really give an accurate picture of whether both players have an equal chance to win. This became a big problem when it came to mitigating the first turn advantage for Blue, which had a much larger impact than Battle Cards. When the board was 5x5 Red seemed able to catch up with 2-3 line advantage, but on a 7x7 grid, even 3 lines wasn't enough, so I upped it to 4. However that might actually be too much, but I never got to observe fresh players play multiple times to record the win/lose percentage for each color.

I also ran preliminary testing solely only my computer, where I could easily erase and undo. When I got out real paper and pens, I found out that drawing mistakes happen frequently, and an entire game can be ruined just by drawing one line in the wrong spot, or prematurely counting territory. It also takes a while to ink in 49 dots to begin a new game.

The Lesson

Errors happen when playing games with pens, so a precise strategy game that requires on humans not making errors might not be the best choice. A crazy line-drawing game where it doesn't really matter if players mess up or not might be worth exploring, especially since the pack of pens I bought also includes green and purple.