Can I bite your game?

The first time I came across this term was in 2007 during my interview with Bruno Faidutti for Polish magazine “Swiat gier planszowych” (World of board games). I asked him how many games he had in his collection. “More than five thousand, hard to say. I cannibalize many games.”

“What?” – I asked, clearly not understanding what he meant. My conversational Polishenglish combined with his Frenchenglish … I think you can sympathize.

“I cannibalize. I take components from other games and use them in my own prototypes. Thus, a lot of my game boxes are incomplete and will never be playable again.”

“Oh.” I said. That was something absolutely new for me. And it was two years after my conversation with Bruno, when – during my works on Stronghold – I finally fully understood what he meant.

***

I have used wood from two Mykerinos boxes, two Glik boxes and one box of Elasund for my Stronghold prototype. I’ve added a cartload of Lego bricks as walls, pots, cannons, hooks… The castle looked like a vast construction site. For a moment it even seemed possible that five incomplete game sets and a pile of my son’s bricks was enough for me to work. Unfortunately… During the final stage of my work on the game I had to send the prototype to testers, and had I not discovered a store with wooden beads I would have been in serious trouble and Ystari company would have been over the moon with twenty more Mykerinos boxes sold.

While working on Prêt-a-Porter I’ve cannibalized copies of Arkham Horror. This game has wonderful cash tokens. I’ve borrowed one of the copies from the club in Gliwice, the other one was lend to me by Tycjan from Opole. I have tarnished the sanctity during my works on Stronghold: Undead – I’ve used chess pawns for priests. I have also made use of green cubes from Space Alert. They have worked so well that eventually we contacted our friends from the CGE and with their help the final version of Undead is equipped with the same tape of cubes as in Space Alert, however they are blood-red colored…

My 51st State was created using wood pieces from Light Speed, and Light Speed was created on the basis of Ikea glass markers. I designed Witchcraft with the usage of damage indicators from the first edition of Neuroshima Hex, and Machina (Machine)… To be honest, I’ve created Machina from scratch, all by myself. It was my first game. I didn’t know then that one should steal the components, and not cut them out with scissors from cardboard…

***

I write about all this all as now working on my Robinson game I’ve cannibalized without even noticing my favorite CGE game – wonderful and crazy Galaxy Trucker. And now, not only I cannot fly into space and experience great adventures there – I also had to splash some paint on my brave Czech astronauts for the sake of Robinson. In my prototype I needed meeples in four different colors, so I had to paint the astronauts. Their resemblance to Neil A. Armstrong is lost.

Galaxy Trucker is one of my son’s favorite games. And what will I tell him now? How can I admit what I have done? Even if I finish my work on Robinson pretty soon, even if none of the astronauts is lost during the tests and they all eventually return to Galaxy Trucker’s box, space trips will never be the same again. Robinson has left a considerable mark on them …

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