Over Christmas, I made a hexagonal game board. For once, I documented the process, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s a double-sided board for two historic games of very different origins. Agon is a French game that was probably invented in the 19th century. A Queen and her six guards must struggle against their opposite numbers to occupy the centre of the board. Zurgaan Tal is a Mongolian relative of Nine Men’s Morris – you might call it “Hexagonal Seventeen Men’s Morris.” (The links lead to the best summaries of the rules I can find.)
Agon has a grid of hexagonal spaces, which is not the easiest thing to draw. A few years ago I managed to create the Agon layout by starting from a grid of equalateral traingles. I don’t remember how. I made what I call a “test board,” of cheap paper glued to corrugated cardboard. Then I forgot about it. Fortunately I still had my workings out, which I was able to transfer by rubbing to a sheet of blue card. I then inked it with brush pens.
I made a test board for Zurgaan Tal and tried it out. I was unhappy with how little space there was for pieces on the central hexagon, so I changed it for the finished design.
Cutting a scavenged piece of board for a backing. It was considerably denser and tougher than expected – harder to cut than hardboard.
I use decoupage lacquer to glue the board together and to give it a glossy, protective coating. There are probably better ways to do it, but some of them involve spray lacquers, which are not great for my lungs. Here, slathering the base board with gloss lacquer.
The card stock is glued on both sides, and I am applying strips of washi tape (a kind of Japanese ornamental masking tape) as a quick and easy way to make the edges.
Applying layers of gloss decoupage to the surface. This is the second of three layers on the “Agon” side, I think. I spread it using a sponge brush (just about visible in the upper right corner), wiping in a different layer each time to build up a woven texture. Each layer takes about an hour to dry.
Snagging: cardstock is not actually ideal for decoupage as bubbles can form under it. I pricked discreet holes with a compass and pressed the board with weights to get rid of them.
The final layer is of matt lacquer, to take the shine down to a more practical level. (On the Zurgaan Tal side, applying the first layer caused the pigment in the cardstock to run, producing a marbled effect I rather like.)
Finally, I cut some stick-on felt pads into thirds to act as feet. Here’s some Chess pieces set out for the beginning of Agon….
…and some of my crude home-made pieces midway through a game of Zurgaan Tal.
Thanks for reading!
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