This week I received the most recent iteration of the Rocket Pawn pieces for StarSpeed from TheGameCrafter. Overall I’m happy with the way the art is looking when printed, and I feel like it’s time to talk a little about the process I’ve gone through in designing these pieces.

In the photo above you can see the four stages I’ve gone through so far: The plastic rockets I used in my earliest prototypes and game tests; the cut-and-fold rocket I used for testing briefly before going back to the more-substantial rockets; the first attempt at a laser-cut acrylic design with stand; and the latest iteration of this design, laser-cut from heavy card, and with a standard plastic base.

The red plastic rocket, and the orange cut-and-fold pawn.
The red plastic rocket, and the orange cut-and-fold pawn.

My favorite so far is probably the basic plastic rocket pawns, honestly – they feel good to use, and they’re simple. They’re not very distinctive though, being just a basic standard rocket mold, so I thought I needed to go a different way. The cut-and-fold design is really great, honestly, but I’m hesitant to include a piece that needs so much assembly – I worry that might turn off some players. I will be refining this design for the print-and-play version of the game, though! Ideally, in a fully published version of StarSpeed, these Pawns would be custom molds, made in a variety of colors. But that’s not an option with TGC games, unfortunately – custom punchouts in either card or acrylic is the only way to get fully custom pieces right now.

So, the problem I’ve had with the two laser-cut pawns so far is in fitting the tabs to the stands and bases. I thought the acrylic one would work just fine. Unfortunately the gaps were just too wide for the acrylic to get a good grip. Also, I ultimately decided I wasn’t as happy with the acrylic pieces, and switched over to a heavy card punch-out.

Picking up the two recent versions, the bases get left behind - you have to pick them up by the base
Picking up the two recent versions, the bases get left behind – you have to pick them up by the base

I found these hex bases on TGC, and tried redesigning the tabs to fit into those, and I was at least successful on that front, but the slots still were too large – both too long AND too wide – to firmly grip the tab. So, another redesign was needed. I really like these hex bases, and will probably try to figure out a tab design that grips them really well, and use them for another project I’ve had in mind for a while now. Also, I realize that the hex bases are entirely too large to fit in the spaces on the tracks.

So, since these photos, I’ve redesigned the pieces into a slot-and-tab configuration I believe should work and have ordered a copy to look at. AND just this morning I came up with another design I think I might like better than the ones I just ordered, so I’ll give those a quick design and order a copy of them as well. After I receive those I’ll update this post with a link to ‘Part 2’!