GDC | Board Game Design Day

Board Game Design Day

GDC 2018 Content. GDC 2019 coming soon.

The Board Game Design tutorial is a one-day deep dive into the art and science of designing non-electronic board (and card) games. Featuring multiple notable speakers from the world of board game design, this is an opportunity to get deep into the design mechanics behind innovative and popular board games, and hear about the design ethos that has shaped standouts in the resurgent world of board game development.

Board Game Design Day takes place on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

View all Board Game Design Day sessions

Featured Sessions

All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, or GDC Summits Pass required.

Board Game Design Day: Balancing Mechanics for Your Card Game's Unique "Power Curve"
Dylan Mayo (The Pokemon Company)
When making trading card/collectible object games you need to balance the cost to play vs. the power of those objects, aka your "power curve". But how that curve looks is very different, based on your game. In this talk, veteran designer Dylan Mayo ('The Spoils', 'Magic', 'Pokemon') will set some base truths and contrast the curves of some of the biggest games in the space, including 'Magic', 'Pokemon', 'Hearthstone', 'The Spoils' and 'Clash Royale'. He'll discuss the concept of "proportional distance off the curve" and how to apply those findings to your own games.
Board Game Design Day: Designing 'Race for the Galaxy': Making a Strategic Card Game
Tom Lehmann (Independent)
In this talk, designer Tom Lehmann discusses his acclaimed card game 'Race for the Galaxy', touching on the title's design, history, and mechanisms. He will walk through its use of cards as resources, simultaneous play, luck mitigation via card-sifting, use of icons, and how ideas from economics and optimization theory influenced its design.
Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition: Postmortem of an App-Integrated Board Game
Andrew Fischer (Fantasy Flight Games)
The new edition of Mansions of Madness combines the collaboration and camaraderie of a co-op board game with the complex branching narrative and hidden information of a digital RPG. Creating a game that could only exist as both a board game and an app while feeling as seamless as either of those on their own presented significant challenges. In this talk, Mansions scenario designer Andrew Fischer will share the conceptual knowledge the team learned while tackling in this unique cross-genre of games and will detail the successes and failures in applying this knowledge in this game and its expansions.
White, Brown, and Pink: The Flavors of Tabletop Game Randomness
Geoff Engelstein (Mars International)
Randomness is not equal. There are a variety of flavors, including white, brown, and pink noise, input randomness, and output randomness. Because the impact of randomness is more visible in tabletop games, using the appropriate technique is critical to generate the desired player experience. This talk examines the different types of randomness, when each is applicable, and how to generate and use them in a board game context.

Board Game Design Day Advisors

Simon Carless
Simon is currently an Executive Vice-President at UBM Technology, a division of UK-headquartered FTSE 250 company UBM. He oversees strategy for the folks running the Game Developers Conference shows worldwide, plus the major Black Hat set of information security events and other properties including Gamasutra & more.

He's also Chairman Emeritus of the Independent Games Festival, which holds its awards at GDC yearly, & co-founder of the Independent Games Summit, and co-runner of seminal video game database MobyGames, which he helped rescue a couple of years back. From 1996 to 2003, he spent most of his time as a full-time video game designer in the UK and Silicon Valley on titles like 'Looney Tunes Racing' (PlayStation) & 'Terracide' (PC).
Soren Johnson
Mohawk Games
Soren Johnson is the founder and CEO of Mohawk Games, where he applies years of experience developing strategy games as both lead designer and gameplay programmer. Mohawk released its debut game, the economic RTS Offworld Trading Company, in 2016. While at Firaxis, Johnson designed Civilization IV, a fan favorite that remains one of the highest-rated strategy games of all time. Johnson is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and was a design columnist for Game Developer Magazine. Johnson's other development credits include 'Civilization III', 'Spore', and 'Dragon Age Legends'. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in computer science from Stanford University. His thoughts on game design can be found at

GDC Tutorials offer a full day of in-depth information and cover a range of game development disciplines on Monday and Tuesday, March 19-20, 2018. View all GDC Tutorials on Session Scheduler.


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