To be a published game designer is to be part of an elite group. Either a manufacturer buys a design and pays royalties, or a designer believes in his or her game enough to have it self-published. Here in Utah, there is an active game design community. An organization called the Board Game Designer’s Guild of Utah is dedicated to helping its members get their board games published. There is also a yearly game convention called Saltcon, where participants can enter a design competition called the “Ion Award.” So what makes a great board game? Theme, artwork, length of time to play, well-written rules, attractive pieces, game mechanics and fun are all factors. Board game players can be picky, but some titles seem to be appreciated by many types of game lovers. The following are five games of note created by Utah designers. Of note: At the Saltcon convention, typically held in February at the University of Utah, finalists for the Ion Award are chosen in the categories of family and strategy games. Alex Davis, of Bountiful, Utah, won the family category at the 2011 convention for his dice-based game Snake Eyes, which has an ancient Roman arena combat theme. For the strategy category, brothers Brian and Greg Powers from Napa, Calif., were awarded first prize for their game Pizza Theory, where players try to be the first to get rid of all their toppings by placing them on a shared pizza.
A unique and addictive card game based on medieval themes with artwork by Utah artist Ryan Laukat. This title is popular among all types of gamers.
Players represent artists trying to complete famous works of art by gathering and mixing the right colors. Debuting this month, this title is by local designer Sean MacDonald.
A game by local designer Alf Seegert places players in the role of a bridge troll. Visitors from across the realm will cross your bridges, and the trolls (players) must collect the best tolls, most valuable travelers and best building materials for their bridges. Seegert also has a new game coming out called Trollhalla.
A light family game that puts players in the roles of competing shipbuilders sailing to the promised land. Big ships are hard to build and slow, but score more points. Small boats are easy to build and quick to sail, but score fewer points. Designed by Utahn Mike Drysdale and published by Utah-based May Day Games.
A family game where players get rid of their food cards by throwing them at other players. The person with the least food on them when the cards run out is the winner. Designed by local designer Scott Nelson.