But worry not, there are options.
There is a rather extensive collection of Print and Play (PnP) games out there just waiting to be discovered.
The interesting aspect of a PnP game is that for the even slightly crafty among us, there is the added aspect of printing the game – yes you will require a printer – then getting to cut and prepare the game.
The effort required to ‘make’ a PnP game can vary from printing a page or two of card art, cutting and either sleeving or gluing to some old playing cards, to rather elaborate boards and bits to make.
In my case, I opt largely for card-based builds. They are rather easy to prepare, and can still offer lots of fun.
So over the next few weeks, I shall take a look at a few quick PnP games that you can work on if the mood strikes.
The first is a game called Seasons of Rice, the core game released in 2018 by creator Corry Damey, who has also created a couple of small expansions that are again available as PnP.
Seasons of Rice is an 18-card tribute to the designer’s Cambodian heritage, where players are ‘farmers put together paddy cards to expand their family’s rice paddies.
A game takes place across two separate seasons (drafting phases): first the Wet Season, then the Dry Season.
Players begin the game during the Wet Season with a hand of seven paddy cards. Each Wet Season turn, they simultaneously select two cards from their hand: one to immediately place into their personal landscape and one to place into a communal row of cards called the Dry Season row. Players then exchange their hands and repeat until all cards have been placed.
In the Dry Season, players take turns selecting one card from the Dry Season row and immediately placing it into their landscape. When the Dry Season row is empty, the game is over.
Damey said the game evolved as a PnP game, although he was not an avid player of the genre.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a large PnP community of gamers until I entered my first contest in 2018 and at that point, I was only dipping my toes into print and plays,” he said in an interview via email. “The first game I remember picking up was Utopia Engine and I loved it. I guess I eventually did become a fan, even if I hadn’t always been one.”
So what about PnP games won Damey over?
“One of the greatest things about PnP games is its low barrier to entry,” he said. “As a gamer, all it takes is having a printer or a place where you can purchase prints along with having the tools to cut and create the game.
“I take great joy in having put together a game that I now get to share and play with others. I still have a PnP copy of Dice Hospital I’ll be keeping for a while yet, simply because I put in the time and effort for a great game.
“From a design perspective, there are endless possibilities. While some may be able to monetize designing PnP games, a lot of those games are made by impassioned gamers with a vision of what they’d want to see exist to share with others.”
That was one thing that I wondered about, why a designer would put in so much effort to give the game to the world for free, or very minimal return?
“Fortunately for me, this hasn’t been an insurmountable hurdle as a graphic designer who can illustrate. But you’re right. In some regards, there isn’t a lot of return,” said Damey, adding it comes down to gratification.
“The first time someone played my game, Seasons of Rice, and love it – there was immediately fruit in what I had done. As a first-time designer, I don’t think there is anything more gratifying than being affirmed that what you’ve created is worth the time to print, cut, craft, and play,” he said.
“And when others echo those same sentiments, it’s hard to ignore that it’s not simply a fluke.
“In my mind, it is absolutely worth the effort even if only to acknowledge that you’ve got the right stuff and to keep creating. And if you not, you learn from critiques and advice to design better.”
Seasons of Rice was created thanks to the challenge of a contest.
“The idea for Seasons of Rice started when The Game Crafter put out a contest for an 18-card game,” said Damey. “I had been going back and forth from theme to theme and liberally hacking at the game up until the contest deadline was in sight. I finally conceded and landed on a theme I’d been holding on to, waiting for a grand game to apply it to Cambodian rice farmers and an ode to my mother. At this point, I realized that if I didn’t care about what I was creating, I’d never see it through. However, I completely missed the deadline, but continued working on it anyway.”
Initially, Damey said all he wanted to do was make a game.
“However, as I began developing and integrating a familial theme, I began to hope it would be an encouragement for designers to look within for their drive to design,” he said. “Through this process, I’ve been able to talk more about what the game means to me. How some of the ancestor abilities are pieces of stories that my mother told us growing up about her childhood. How some of the ancestors are family members of mine. I hope Seasons of Rice can be a game that shows designers that it’s okay to showcase who they are and where they’re from.”
The hardest part of creating the game was the final tweaking of things.
“I think as you come toward the end of the development cycle where things feel like they’re really solid, that’s the hardest time to make drastic changes,” said Damey. “But sometimes those are very necessary… I think another difficulty that goes hand-in-hand with my last example is just having an open mind to the suggestion of others. You don’t always have to take their advice, but when you repeatedly hear different people talk about the same issue, it takes effort to set aside your pride and listen.
As for the best aspect of the game, Damey tips his hat to another for that.
“I’m probably quite biased, but I love the artwork that my brother Jerome created for this game,” he said. “It’s much better suited to the playstyle than my initial artwork and brings life and vibrancy across the board. It’s hard to say what the best part of this game is. However, what I’m most proud of is the integration of theme to the two drafting seasons that occur during the game. The wet season in Cambodia is the longer of the two seasons with lots of growth, water, and value. This is represented by a hand of cards with lots of choices during the first half of the game. During the dry season, there are fewer choices, a shared pool of resources, and the need to make ends meet. Things are a little more meager in the game. This is by no means exploding with a theme, but those differences in drafting that parallel the seasonal rice harvest in Cambodia made me proud.”
As for play, the better half and I have given this one some time on the table, and found it smooth, with the two small expansions each adding to the flavor if the game. Check it out at www.pnparcade.com