The 3rd Dimension of Board Games

STATLER
Hey, Waldorf — what are we gonna see in here anyway?

WALDORF
It’s one of those 3D movies. Put on your glasses, Statler.

Muppet Vision 3D – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

As a kid, I can remember some of my first 3D experiences. The best ones at that time (80’s and 90’s) came from trips to Walt Disney World. Muppet Vision 3D — and the bouncing Waldo. Honey I Shrunk the Audience at EPCOT — being scared of the giant snake that was hissing way too close [although, my deepest memory from that show was actually a 4D effect involving mice!]

Then, movies finally figured out how to take 3D beyond gags and to a point of artistry.

Maybe Unobtanium is the key element to opening the 3rd Dimension

One of the things I love about board gaming as opposed to video games or phone apps is the hands-on, tactile experience. That said, many of the games we play are actually fairly flat (dimensionally-speaking). Boards are flat, cards are flat, paper money is flat…

Not pictured: the best part of the game –> the playing pieces (especially the racecar and thimble)

In modern board gaming, not only do we see players wanting new experiences, new themes, new mechanisms — but I also see that serious players want more 3rd dimension in their games. Standees become Meeples, who become customized in Stretch Goals. Paper money becomes coins, which become thicker and textured. Resource cards become cubes, which become life-like shapes.

Designers haven’t stopped there! We can look to games like Photosynthesis and Everdell with 3D trees, Amerigo and the upcoming Stygian Society with cube towers, plus games with dice towers, and tile-laying, and city-building (upward building!)

The board game hobby is a wonderfully tactile experience and I love that designers and publishers are finding new, creative, and artistic ways to bring the amazing 3rd dimension into new games.

I want to finish this article with high-lighting a specific form that I see in a couple of my games that I particularly enjoy –> when games go up! For Christmas, I got my son Super Rhino Hero Battle. My 7-year old loves that we get to bend cards in this game and he cracks up at the funny pictures in the windows. Specifically, though, we both get a thrill out of building our metropolis up and up and up — to the point where my son has to start standing on his chair towards the end of the game when the buildings get past 10 floors!

10 floors and counting…

A simple example of this element is in Santorini. I love Santorini because for me it is Chess with powers, making the replayability off the charts. At the heart of the game, though, is the concept of building a tower until one of your figures can stand on the top. Thus, what starts as a flat board playing space, will turn into a 3D Greek wonderland by the end of the game.

So, what about you? What 3D element in board games do you enjoy the most?

STATLER
Hey, hey — hey, look! Look at the guy in the Goofy mask!

WALDORF
That’s not a mask.

STATLER
Oh. Sorry, lady!

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