In Rumsmuggler board game a bunch of watchful scamps try to smuggle rum into the royal ports, while the duty of the King's honourable sailors is to seize their illegal cargoes. Meantime they all try to avoid the threats of the sea, monsters, reefs, ghost ships and the most dangerous of all: drunkenness.
Rumsmuggler board game was my master degree project in the University of West Hungary on graphic design course. My idea was to design a complete game, from the rules to a real playable version. I wanted to put my favourite things into a board game: ships, maps and old towns. The easiest way was to make up an entirely new game instead of redesigning one.
It's a tig game between pirates, coastguards and ghost ships with the goal of collecting barrels full of rum. The materials I used for the game were as important as the vivid graphics with the detailed illustrations. The players have wooden ship figures and barrels, the board is printed onto canvas and the bags are made of jute.
The game has a colourful box, with a huge rum lover octopus on the front. The game title can be seen on three sides so it can be identified easily even when only the smallest side is visible on a shelf at the shop, or at home. On the three other sides there is information about the number of players, the required game time and age. Under the top cover there is an island with animals on it’s sides. The box contains the scrolled map, three bags for small pieces, seven player boards and the rulebook.
The board graphic was made in the style of old maps, as it shows the islands, mountains and cities from bird-view, there are monsters and ships in the sea, the viewer can find coat of arms and a fancy spot for very important writings, and can learn the flora and fauna of the islands.
The islands are connected by routes. At first they were straight lines, then I decided to make them curved, inspired by the sea currents and magnetic curves of the Earth, this way they became more dynamic.The map is printed directly onto canvas. I chose this material for two reasons, first it can be a real pirate map, on the other hand it easily fits in a small box. Final size of the canvas is 41×55 cm.
There are ten harbours on the board, each have a unique symbol or a coat of arms. The buildings were inspired by half timbered houses from the 17th century. The royal towns are surrounded by high walls, they are rich, and huge ships anchor there. Among the towns ruled by pirates there are rich and poor as well, they are built on the ruins of former wealthy settlements, and usually are much smaller than the towns of the King.
Coat of arms
Every town has a unique emblem, the coats of arms of the king were made by the rules of the classical heraldry, where colours must never be placed on colours, or metals on metals, that provided good contrast and therefore good visibility. They contain simple colours, forms and symbols from the mediaeval.
The pirates have freely drawn flags, their main motif is the skull, which represents the friendship with Death. Also historical pirate motifs are shown up: coins, weapons and the hourglass.Both fractions have a unified symbol, created from the individual flags, that symbol helps to identify fractions through the game.
Size of the cards is 6×8cm, on their back there is the same windrose as on the map, indicating the place where the players should put them during gameplay. There are three types of cards: the fortune, the smuggler and the secret cards.
☛ Some of the fortune cards tell you to go to-and-fro, others have different effects on your speed or on your precious cargo, the rum.
☛ The smuggler cards influence the gameplay with restrictions or treats. Everybody is affected by a smuggler card, it has to be put in the red and yellow border on the map, so every player can see it.☛ The secret card is for the player who drew it, it is a secret until the player decides to use it.
Animals are hiding in the deep jungle, they all come from the Central American wilderness. There are creatures in the water too, sea cows, fish and whales. The two monsters of the sea are real creatures as well. The octopus is just an ordinary giant octopus with an extra addiction to rum, and the green sea serpent is an oarfish which can grow up to 15m.
Every player has a board that belongs to their ship. They can collect their rum portions on them. There are three types, the King’s ship boards, the pirate ship boards, and one for the Flying Dutchman.
Ships were made in three classic sailship forms, a lugger for pirates, a cutter for coastguards and a 17th century dutch merchantship, a fleut for the Flying Dutchman. 3D models were designed in Blender, then they were cut by a CNC machine into different coloured wood (the purple ship is made of amaranath). The barrels and the dice are made of wood as well.
During the design process several test plays helped me with feedbacks, here you can see one of them.