10 August 2018
DIY or DOA?
The White Box is, according to its lid, a ‘game design workshop in a box’. It’s a boxful of assorted bits that you can use to make games, and a book, The White Box Essays, that will instruct you in the mysteries of designing, testing and even selling your first game.
Inside you’ll find 36 meeples, 150 small and six large cubes in various colours, 12 dice, 110 tokens and three sheets of card counters, some blank and some pre-printed. It’s a useful mix but not diverse, and missing some key components. In the many game design workshops I’ve run over the last decade almost nobody ever uses large cubes, but we get through hundreds of blank cards each session. There are no cards in the box.
The White Box Essays is well-written, and Jeremy Holcomb has chops as a designer with three pages of credits on BoardGameGeek, but there’s a big hole in its middle. It’ll tell you how to crowdfund a game, how to pitch to publishers, how to design a box, and there’s a whole chapter on networking at conventions, but there’s no breakdown of the actual process of concepting, designing and refining a game. It dances around the subject but never gets to grips with it.
Fundamentally the best way to learn how to make games is by making games. The White Box is a good toolkit for novice game designers, but it’s not a good instruction manual.
Full disclosure: Atlas Games publishes Once Upon a Time, which this review's author James Wallis co-designed.
Buy your copy here
Designer: Jeremy Holcom
This review originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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