Custom Board Game Pieces – Ships, islands, and more!
In my vast experience with Pirates CSG, I have made a LOT of custom board game pieces. By “pieces” I mean both physical and “virtual” items that help me enjoy Pirates Constructible Strategy Game to the fullest. This includes custom made islands and terrain for the game, in addition to game pieces that can be proxied into the playing experience or used easily on the VASSAL module.
Making custom islands for board games can be pretty fun! There are a variety of building materials to choose from, not to mention the variety of supplies and accessories to consider. I’ve had some success with various types of foam (not all of it will melt under spray paint, but be careful!), along with various cardboard chunks and molds.
Here’s an example:
For this island, I took a thin flat piece of somewhat weak foam and modified it in various ways. I cut out a shape that I liked, then added a coat of black spray paint (some more porous foams may melt when applying spray paint, so test outside or simply avoid using spray paint in general if you plan to make your own islands). Some grasses and sands (found at Hobby Lobby; Amazon has similar) came in handy for the realistic layer above the paint. I applied the powdery grass and sand with spray glue (glue and water in a small spray bottle that came in the kit I bought), and then added some rocks or “boulders” as well. You can see them on the shore at the bottom of the picture. Towards the top (where the action is happening) I added some bushes for a more 3D landscape.
Custom game pieces for use
I’ve made a LOT of custom ships, crew, and other game pieces for Pirates CSG. There is nothing wrong with creating your own stats and abilities for your very own creations. I am consistently working on a historical custom set (Pirates of the Age of Sail) that I hope will eventually encompass nearly all known ships and historical figures (crew) that played a part in the Age of Sail time period. I also sporadically work on my custom fantasy set, Pirates of the Epic Seas. This is where my creativity shines more (though I’m not normally a very creative person), as I make all sorts of interesting stuff.
If you like playing Pirates CSG, I highly recommend experimenting with making your own custom board game pieces. Both islands and customs (shorthand for custom ships/crew/equipment/etc.) are fun to make and very rewarding to use in games. Although I haven’t made any of my customs into physical form, there are various ways to do so if you’re inclined (stickers, marker, 3D printing, etc). If you still feel hesitant to get started, you could watch a tutorial or buy some islands, not to mention using other people’s custom sets!
You can check out the My Custom Stuff page for even more details on my personal contributions.
Awwww yeah! I still love playing Star Wars Pocketmodels and I’ve always been a fan of the pirates destructible game too!
I’ve seen many people review building terrain and custom units, this is awesome! I had no idea people were still so into this game, buying, building then playing, man it’s cool to see a post like this, thanks!
Awesome! I absolutely love hearing from people who remember this game and/or still enjoy it. It’s almost like a lost gem of board games at this point haha!
There is an active Facebook group.
Not to mention a Discord server and some other sites where Pirates CSG is being discussed.
Thanks for commenting!
Ben (Admiral A7XfanBen)
Hi Ben. I had no idea that Constructible Strategy Games were a thing. I don’t get how you play using the island you have made? So if you’re making stuff, you are also making all of the rules up? Then who do you play against? I’m off to check out some of your other posts to find answers to some of my questions. Cheers mate.
Hi Andrew! The homepage of my site (https://pirateswithben.com/) explains the basics of what the game is and how it works. It’s a constructible and customizable board game that doesn’t use an official board, if that makes sense. This website is designed in general for those who enjoy playing and collecting the game, but I think I’ll write a blog post soon explaining the very fundamental stuff as well. (I have a Beginner’s Guide that I can link to on the homepage as well)
Wizkids produced the game and made the main rules, but it’s fun to modify the rules to make them better (My Basic Rules can be found on the My Custom Stuff page). I’ve played a bunch of solo games where I control all the fleets, some physical games against human opponents, and also on the VASSAL module against people anywhere in the world. (virtual gaming experience using the VASSAL program)
Thanks for commenting!
How would I go about making my own custom ships from scratch? I want to achieve making my custom ships almost if not exactly like how they would when the game was still being developed. Obviously there are limitations to that, that I am aware of. But I haven’t been able to find an effective way to actually cut out and print my own pieces. I want to create my own time frame and series for this particular game…
Ahoy Micah! Good question. I use a 3D printer. Others have had good experience using laser cutters with styrene or acrylic sheets. There are other options too of course, but acquiring actual dies like Wizkids used would be one of the most expensive options. There’s a thread for 3D printing in the forum, and I’d encourage you to join the Discord and check out the #projects section if you haven’t already.
Great topic that we can hopefully collaborate on! 🙂
Laser Cutting was my first choice when I first set out with this. And yeah, the printing of the actual designs will be the most expensive part of this whole thing. I have thought about 3D Printing but I just couldn’t ever get around to that. Something about the way they look I guess just doesn’t do it for me personally. I’ve actually been developing very slowly my own game using the same template as Pirates. I’ve started blueprinting templates of WW2 era ships for a completely new Constructible Strategy Game using the same method of punchable and buildable ships.
Cool, feel free to share your building methods with the community!