If you want to play a board game, then you only need two things: a game and a surface to play it on. However, something I have noticed over the years is that many creators only focus on the first of these two things, and they leave it up to the player to worry about finding a big enough surface.
While I understand the reasons behind this, I do believe as a creator, I can be doing my part to make it easier for people, and today I want to share a part of my process.
Several years ago, I spoke with an architect and asked them how big a standard dining room table is in a house designed for 4 people. They sent me some information that shows the UK guidelines on what should be allowed for when designing a dining room.
As you can see, the architect’s pocket book includes 3 options for 4-person tables:
- 1300mm x 750mm
- 900mm x 900mm
- 1100mm diameter round table
Ever since, I have used these numbers when designing my games as a checkpoint to make sure I am creating something that is as practical as possible for as many people as possible.
Here is The Isle of Cats setup on each table:
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- The large blue area is the players’ boats.
- The small blue area is the matching players’ lesson cards.
- The black area is the island.
- The orange squares represent the cat tiles.
- The red squares show the Oshax tiles.
- The purple squares show the common treasure.
I typically block out shapes, so the island, for example, is a rectangle and not an island shape, which allows some flexibility for the player.
I don’t map out piles of resources or decks of cards unless I am concerned there will not be enough room.
It is important to note that I don’t restrict myself due to table space, and I do make different decisions based on the type of game, but I do value this checkpoint and have made changes based on it.
Hopefully these measurements can help you consider table size when designing your next game!