You don't need to just get better at game design. You need to get more efficient at it.


A huge amount of the work of board game design is creating the components (real or digital). This is constructive and rewarding work, though, and is when you'll come up with lots of your ideas.

Always remember that your game will undergo more changes than you think, so don't bother making things perfect.

For the first prototype of a game, I often reuse my icons from other games (or just use text), and don't bother with nice art, consistency, or much else. An experienced designer knows that the first playtest is often the last.

As the game progresses, I like to make improvements here and there. By about revision 10, everything is nice and neat, and the game is pleasant to look at and play.


I strongly suggest making your game cards in a word processor. If you have a desktop publisher, that's far better. I use Affinity Publisher, and it's excellent for boards as well as cards. Each page can be a card, so you're not trying to cut up a larger image into cards, nor do you need dozens of separate files.

Don't make cards in a graphics program like Photoshop. Dealing with positioning things, and hundreds of layers, is mind-boggling. Trying to put icons in the middle of text, is just one of the many problems you'll run into.


Each time I do a revision, I make another copy of the entire game folder, and number it (001 etc.) I keep every revision of my games, as I often want to recover an old component, see how I did things, or even revert the whole game to a previous state.

For a long time, I kept excellent notes. It's nice to do things really comprehensively, like this. These notes contained three elements:

However, after many years of doing this, I've come to the conclusion that it's mostly not worthwhile.

Writing a change log has been useful in the few projects I've done where other people have been involved. The rest of the time, I was writing notes that would be unlikely to ever be looked at again.

Changes to components are recorded anyway, as I retain a copy of every version of the game.

What has been useful has been keeping track of the rules. A rules card is ideal for playtesters, but it's also essential for when I take a break from a game, and return to it. If you never had a rules card, or only kept track of the changes, resuming the project would be difficult.

With older projects, I continue their record-keeping system. For new ones, I just make an entire copy of the game each revision, and make sure to keep the rules card up-to-date. That's it.


Do quick, small revisions. Just fix one thing at a time. Big revisions are a slog.

As with the design itself, you should upgrade your software and systems, as your game design career progresses. 

If you're serious about game design, you should be aiming to do one revision a day. That means you'll need enough playtesters to support that. If you're busy some days, you should be doing one revision per free day. A game will likely take more than a hundred revisions. One revision a week means one game will take two years.

At the start of your career, you'll be plodding along, and wasting time in all kinds of ways. If/when you're successful, you'll be efficiently speeding through important work.

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