After playing a few ‘giant’ games at Origins last year, it became clear that playing a game on a large scale version was a lot of fun. On the drive back to New York, it occurred to me in a moment of utter clarity – Giant Bruges! Immediately, the idea started to take hold, and I began brainstorming on how to upsize my favorite game of all time.
I thought it would be good to share my experience with this project, in the hopes that it might inspire others to transform their favorite game into a giant sized masterpiece of gaming goodness.
The project by making a list of all of the components, and jotting down notes about suitable large size replacements. Logically, determining how large the board should be is one of the first decisions to make as it guides many of the other decisions that will follow.
One of the considerations for board size is picking one that will fit on a table. Using measurements from the table in my Game Room, I determined the largest board that would fit.
Once I knew roughly how big I wanted to make it, I started looking into how I might go about getting the game board printed and mounted. After some research, I found a company called Print & Play Productions. They specialize in game parts, custom prototypes, and print & play games. I ended up ordering a 2 piece board. Each 13″ x 9″ section would fold 4 times. Resulting in an overall board size of 35 1\2″ by 49 1\2″. The cost of the board was about 50 bucks.
The next step was to figure out how to transform the small board into the right size. My initial attempt was to try to obtain a high resolution file from the publisher (Z-Man), but as I suspected that didn’t happen. My fallback was to scan the board using a scanner. In order to keep the graphics looking good when upscaled, I decided to scan at 600 dpi. Fair Warning – scanning at 600 DPI will produce some pretty big files.
Since the board would not fit on my small home scanner, I ended up scanning it twice and then merged the two images together using Photoshop. While in Photoshop, I adjusted the size as needed to fit the board size available at the printing site.
Here’s a image showing the regular size board and my oversized version.
After finding a good solution for the game board, I decided to tackle replacing the workers component. In the box, these are just your basic meeples in the 5 colors used throughout Bruges (yellow, brown, blue, purple, and red). I created a template to make these about 3″ tall. I decided to make these about 5\8″ thick so that they will easily stand on their own. Eventually, I’d love to have someone paint the meeples with faces and clothes to make them look like different types of workers. For now, they are simply spray painted with a coat of matte clear finish. Lucky for me, my father is pretty handy with a scroll saw and the only cost was spray paint in the appropriate colors.
The game includes a bunch of pie wedge shaped threat markers. If during the game a player receives the 3rd marker of one type (completing the pie), the threat triggers and the player suffers the negative consequence. In Bruge, there are 5 different types of threats. Figuring out how to represent these in my giant version was difficult. I wanted to maintain consistency with the colors of the threats, but find something more fun to represent them. For consistency, I wanted to find replacement items that were in the 2-3 inch size if possible.
Let’s start with Plague which seemed to be the easiest. Since this component has a picture of a rat, I did some shopping online for small plastic rats. These were pretty easy to find. The trade-off is that the plastic rats are black, but the actual threat marker is brown. A small trade-off that I decided I would accept. Cost: $13
The next threat marker was a bit more complicated to decide on. What item would be good to represent a flood? I pondered this for a while, and eventually decided on small watering cans. I found these at a site that specializes in wedding favors. They were blue in color, so that would work pretty well. Cost: $11
For the Raid markers (lose all your guilders), I found something that would work perfectly – an Angry Mob Playset – but unfortunately it is no longer being produced and the prices were more than I was willing to spend. Eventually I ended up picking up some pirates. I found these were available from Toobs. They even happened to have a yellow(ish) base, so they would work well. Cost: $21
The fire markers were also a challenge. I spent time searching for miniature campfire figures, torches, and other things. Not having luck, I landed on cutting these out of wood. Lucky for me my father is a pro with his scroll saw, so making these was not a big effort. My first attempt was to create them about 1\2″ thick, but they didn’t stand up very well. To address this problem, I decided to make them thinner and include a slotted base to hold them upright. This worked very well. A bit of hot glue in the bottom of the base did the trick. Cost: The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.
After finding success with the fire threat markers, I decided to use the same approach for the Intrique threat markers. With some image searching on the web, I found a good drawing of a hand holding a dagger. Again, created a slotted based to hold the 1/4″ thick cutout. Cost: The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.
Since the canal tokens must fit in specific spaces on the board, I measured the spaces on the board, and found that these should be 1″ x 2″ . To replace these components, my approach was to custom create wooden tokens, but I decided to use a router to add a wave-like design on the top. Cost: The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.
Score\Influence track markers
The player markers used on the score track & influence track were a pretty simple decision. I upsized these using the markers that came in the box, just scaled them to fit appropriately on the larger game board. Cost: The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.
There really wasn’t much of a decision to make on this one – I decided to use GameChips. Maybe in the future, I’ll work on getting custom chips made to match the color and designs of the guilders, but for now I’m more than happy to use these.
For the Majority markers, I wanted something very visible from across the table. I landed on making wooden cutouts to represent each of the majorities (influence, people, and canals). The cutouts fit into a slotted wooden holder.
When I went to Origin’s 2015, I found some giant sized dice to use. Cost: ~50.00
My initial concept for Statue tokens was to order trophies engraved with the value of points awarded. While I still think I may eventually take this direction, but in the short term, I once again ended up solving this component with a scroll saw. I found a nice silhouette of an oscar statue to use. Cost: The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.
What about the cards?
Bruges uses cards as a main element of game play. I had considered making larger card versions, but ultimately, it came down to playability. Holding, shuffling, and having room to place the cards on the table were the main reason I decided to stick with using the cards that came with the game. At some point, perhaps I’ll try making some jumbo cards to see if it would improve or detract from the game play.
The Wrap up:
The first play of the new set occurred at Origin’s 2015. It look about a full year from idea to completion of the set. With all expenses factored in, I believe the cost of making this set was about $165, and a fair amount of labor. If you are thinking about making an upsized version of your game, it’s a fun project that needs a fair amount of planning especially if you are picking a game with many different components.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them below!