Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

How big is a table?

29th June 2023 2

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!

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!


  • Wonmin

    29th June 2023 at 7:06 pm

    I dunno why but I always keep my lesson cards is a neat row tucked under my boat whenever I play, but I like your illustration more. I’ll do that next time, haha


    • Frank West

      29th June 2023 at 7:53 pm

      It’s always fascinating to see the different ways people interact with a game, there is nothing wrong with tucking them under!


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