Hedge Maze #1: Origins and development

Last Monday we released Hedge Maze, a print and play game with a simple set of rules. It can either be played with printable components or with a chess board a set of Dominoes and a couple of tokens. This post will contain some of the history of the game and how it came to be what it now is.

 

The idea

A game doesn’t need to be complicated to be fun and doesn’t really need custom pieces, extravagant art or complicated mechanics either as long as the core of the game is fun and challenging. This is something that has been capitalized by other print and play games and probably made famous by Cheap Ass Games (of Kill Doctor Lucky fame). A game could very likely just be a rearrangement of an existing set of game pieces with new rules.

This is the main idea that drove development of Hedge Maze, using something common like the chess board and a set of game pieces creating a fun abstract strategy / puzzle game.

The main mechanic is sort of similar to Chinese checkers, get your pieces to the other side of the board before the opponent. While the ever moving maze is something that is fairly original to this game, the change the environment to suit yourself while blocking the opponent is a classic mechanic. Despite leaning on classics this is a new take on the mechanics, packaged in a way that can be played on the go or in

The first prototype was actually played on a computer screen. An Inkscape document where all the pieces could be moved around on a board was used to test the basic rules. After proving that it was an actual challenge and also a bit of fun within the tiny ruleset we invested in a set of Dominoes to start playing the game as intended.

One of the first board setups. Similar but not identical to the one shown in the current rules.
One of the first prototype boards we used when testing on a computer. The setup is similar but not identical to the one shown in the current rules.

Development

Despite having a quite simple core, at one point it was even simpler. Initially pieces couldn’t be rotated and the flip rule wasn’t added more than a couple of months ago.

The development of Hedge Maze has been quite slow and in periods. It was always a side project to Bushido Duels so it was in sprints we played and improved the rules and the starting maze layout. We’ve considered it almost done for over a year, it just needed a “little tweak”… So we’ve tweaked it, considering extra rules, adding new, removing again.

When writing the rules we tried making the format as compact as possible and to be easily printable. Fitting the entire rules on a single folded A4 (two pages for side) was set as the goal. This resulted in the current  Front page + 3 pages of rules. It became a bit cramped but it is hopefully understandable still. (If not, we’re open to suggestions)

Isn't that a nice and small booklet?
Isn’t that a nice and small booklet?

The Optional rules

On the back of the rules booklet we have the text:

This Game is © Frozen Maze Games AB 2019
but…
this is a simple game and there is room for extra rules, so feel free to add your  own ideas to the game and remix it as you see fit.

During Stockholm Tabletop Game Expo, the game designer (and very nice guy) Manuel sat down and played the game and we got talking about additional rules and the possibility to add and extend the game. We talked a bit about the rules we’d considered to make the game more interesting but not added to the core.  He suggested to encourage remixes and optional rules, an idea we felt fit excellently and incorporated quickly.

On the last page of the rules booklet there’s now a list of optional rules, some suggested by players testing the game at conventions and some rules we set aside during development. We hope players will now contribute rules back to us, extending the game further.