How Would SteamWorld Dig Work as a Board Game?

Hi! Julius here. If it’s one thing we at Image & Form love just as much as video games (and cake), it’s board games. We actually have a shelf full of them. We’ve for a long time imagined to ourselves how a board game based on SteamWorld Dig would work. And while we don’t have anything solid in the works we’ve got a pretty good picture of how we would design it.

But our friend Michael Nanthachack recently e-mailed me a killer concept of a SteamWorld Dig board game. In short: He beat us to it. Michael has got some really cool ideas, so I’ll let him take the reins and explain it for you.

Michael’s SteamWorld Dig: The Board Game

The core concepts behind SteamWorld Dig that I love so much are the digging and exploration aspects. Getting ore, selling it to get money in order to buy upgrades so you can progress further is such a great gameplay loop. It’s something I wanted to see how well it transferred to board games, something I know the wonderful folks at Image & Form enjoy as much as I do.

So the first thing to focus on is the act of exploring in board game form. The most common act of exploring something in a board game is the act of flipping a card or a tile, which fits rather nicely, so I adopted that functionality for the game. Using an action point allowance system where you have 4 points in order to do any number of actions any amount of times within those 4 points, we have such available actions like moving (left and right), digging, jumping, selling, etc.

How the game works with these things in place is that players have a board (see board 1 below) that comprises of the town of Tumbleton at the top, what we can call the Surface, and the Underground below. Each of those squares will be covered with a random tile according to the level of the row on the board. It’s these squares that players are exploring through the digging action. A variety of things from ore, enemies, empty spaces, and wells are possible.

Click on the images to see the game boards:

But the other thing that makes SteamWorld Dig great is the upgrade system. The gameplay loop doesn’t exist if you have nothing to spend your money on, so it needed to be an important part to the board game. Thus, you can return to the Surface to sell your collected ore so you can buy various upgrades for different parts of your Cowbot (see board 2).

The other thing you can buy, however, are Victory Points, which is what you need to win the game. The game ends when someone reaches the bottom of their board and play continues until everybody has gotten the same amount of turns. After that last turn, players would compare their total Victory Points and declare a winner of the game: The best cowbot miner Tumbleton has ever seen! (At least until the next game.)

Well, those are the core features of what I envision a board game based off of SteamWorld Dig to be. Hope you guys enjoyed that, and maybe one day we can play it 😉

Question: Which classic board game would you like to see get a SteamWorld Dig cross-over treatment? 

If you also want to contribute to the Image & Form blog, e-mail your blog post ideas to julius@imageform.se.

  • RJO

    Cool stuff, Michael! I like how you’ve transferred the aspects you like in the digital game to the board game version, that’s definitely the way to go when creating a board game out of an existing product/franchise. I think Dig would make a great board game and I think this is on the right track on how it could be done successfully.

    • LunarKnite

      Thank you! And yeah, I agree. I really like exploration in my board games, such as in Eclipse and even games like Pandemic where everybody is waiting in anticipation when you flip over the next card to infect. So having that as the main mechanic for a board game based off of SteamWorld Dig makes a lot of sense and is innately fun and exciting, I think.

  • MinesAlone

    Excellent work Michael! 10/10 Would definitely play! Very simple and elegant solution to the game’s core gameplay and seems graspable by many ages and varying levels of board game expertise. I would definitely buy this game!

    • LunarKnite

      Thanks! =D I was trying to go for exactly that! I want it to be a shorter game length as well, but something that you could play two, maybe even three times in a row if so inclined.

  • rhpot1991

    Where do I put my money?

    • 😀

      • MinesAlone

        *throws money* Just take it!

        • Gratefully accepted ;D Now we can finally finance the office sauna 😀

  • chaoticlapras

    *screams* So beautiful :3