About a year ago, I decided to try and do something I’d always wanted to do, but always put off as some pipe dream. Earlier this year, I finished the rough draft to my horror fantasy novel and I’m pretty proud of myself for finally getting around to it.
Any good writer knows that you need to distance yourself from your draft, so that when it comes time to edit, you can really take a machete to it Jason style. The problem is you”ll never stop thinking about your work unless you find something else to throw your creativity at. Thats where this box comes in.
I present to you ABG, the Aliens Board Game. As a naturally creative person, I needed something to fill the void. I’ve always dabbled in other creative ventures, but I settled on a board game because it required a blend of different creative mediums. Plus, board games serve as good bonding activities for me and my little brothers(who I won’t always get to see).
Creating a board game from scratch can be as simple or as complicated an affair as you want it to be. So where do you start? For me, I approached it like I would a story. I created an outline of every idea I had, everything that I would need to include in order for the game to capture the spirit of the films.
Next, I went out and researched what kind of board games are out there and what would best fit for the type of game I would like to play. I decided to create a tile and miniature game, finding inspiration for gameplay in Space Hulk and Aliens vs Predator: The Hunt Begins. Space Hulk’s universe is a bit inspired by the Aliens franchise so it was a natural fit. The Hunt Begins is entirely based on the franchise, so it was even more of a fit. Both of these games can be found on Amazon or Ebay, but both are fairly expensive. Also, the miniatures do not come painted.
The next step was coming up with a story for my game. What’s happening and why is it happening? I decided to take some artistic liberties with the Aliens universe and drew some inspiration from the Aliens comic book franchise. Players take control of either the Colonial Marines or the Xenomorphs. Here is the introduction as it reads in my mission memo:
“The USS Nebuchadnezzar is the oldest Conestoga class troop transport in the USCM fleet. Once the pride of the fleet, the vessel has fallen into a state of disrepair. Home to over 60 marines, the Nebuchadnezzar is en route to its final mission before the weathered ship is decommissioned. As the Colonial Marines, you are undertaking the largest bug hunt to ever commence. Brass has ordered the nuclear annihilation of the xenomorph homeworld, Xeno Prime. It’s the only way to be sure.”
There are 20 missions/scenarios to choose from, each one a small piece in a larger narrative aboard the Nebuchadnezzar. That means if the last mission ends in the cargo hold, the next mission will begin in the cargo hold. This was an attempt to give the game some continuity and make players feel an attachment to the characters they are controlling.
I could have made this part of the process a lot easier on myself, but of course I chose to do things the harder way. I could have printed out some generic sci-fi tiles and glued them on top of cardboard, but I wanted something that I made entirely with my own hands. I also made sure to use cheap materials, so as not to bust open the piggy bank.
First, I cut out 80 or so different cardboard tiles of various shapes and sizes. Then I glued popsicle sticks to the bottom of each tile, then put another layer of cardboard on the bottom. This was to ensure tile pieces would be a lot more durable. Then I spray painted each piece matte black and then proceeded to hand paint each tile with a rusted ship aesthetic. This was my least favorite part of the process as this took a lot of hours, but in the end I feel it was worth it.
Play Pieces And Tokens
I needed play pieces and I had no idea how to create miniatures from scratch. As luck would have it, I found a cheap solution on Amazon. Diamond select toys offers army men style xenomorphs and colonial marines.
Not only do they look great, I got them for ten bucks. I house them in a hand painted cigar box that we also throw the dice into(I put foam padding on the bottom).
Next, I made my own dice and alien eggs out of polymer clay(hand painted). I made various tokens and doors as well. The ones I’m most proud of (beside the eggs) are the blip tokens because they look like the motion tracker(or are at least suppose to).
Here’s the game in action. We’ve also made flame obstacles(polymer clay) and hazmat barrels(painted wine cork). We’re still perfecting the gameplay mechanics and adding details to some of the pieces as we go along.