Ochmir Pieces
Two Handed Prototype
Two Handed Final
Three Handed

What do you make game pieces out of?

  • card - by far the simplest option, particularly for pieces made at home. Easy to work with, cheap. Can be laminated for extra durability, but card pieces tend not to last long unless they're made from heavy stock.

    Definitely the experimenter's friend, though.

    For ochmir, pieces made from card would not last long because of the constant battering the pieces will get (being bounced around in a bag, for instance). The most durable option would be to use thick card as a core and then stick appropriately coloured paper or thin card on either side to get the sides colour correctly.

  • wood - I can imagine some really nice pieces being made from wood, and it wouldn't be too hard to mass produce them, but the staining would be harder than it would be with card. Some kind of carving or router work would be desirable for the markings.

    I think wooden pieces would be nice for ochmir: they would be durable (especially if nicely varnished) and would feel good in the hand. I won't be making these until I've got a better idea of good piece proportions, though.

  • clay (or other modelling material) - I've done quite a lot of work with an epoxy putty called Milliput would would be a good material for this kind of application. It's light, strong and durable, and takes paint very well. It would be quite hard to mass manufacture with, however, since you'd need to press it into a mould to get a consistent shape for the pieces. Other materials in a similar vein might be too brittle for this application, unfortunately (at least based on my experience of other modelling clays).

    I'd like to play a game with a well made set of pieces of this type, but I'm struggling to think about how I'd make these myself.

  • plastic - the kind of injection moulded plastic pieces found in so many board games would be impractical for home manufacture, but resin pieces might work very well. Indeed, if you were working with stone powder in a resin matrix then I think you'd get very good results - I have a set of rune tiles made from this material which would be a very good approximation to how I would like my ochmir tiles to be.

    Like making pieces from a clay-like substance, however, using a resin would require moulds be prepared. You could add colour to the resin to save painting the different sides of the pieces, but great care would need to be taken in pouring to avoid unwanted mixing.

    These pieces would probably be pretty much indestructible too, which would be nice.

    Note that I have been thinking about these pieces primarily as triangular, but there is no reason why they could not be hexagonal (which would be very much in keeping with the theme of sixes) or circular. Lenticular pieces would be very pleasing, especially of made out of a stone/resin mix, and it might be reasonable to buy some good go stones of this form and mark them up using the proper symbols. Varnishing the stones would be necessary to preserve any paint, of course.

  • metal - I don't think this would work. Quite apart from the impracticality of home manufacture, the colour would have to be painted on and would inevitably chip off in the jouncing which these pieces would see in the bag.


Two-Handed Pieces: Prototype

Making a really good set of pieces will have to wait until good relative proportions for the piece values have been determined. Figuring out those proportions is a job for a prototype, or series of protoypes.

A good prototype medium would be card. I am thinking a good construction option would be to take a piece of blue paper, and a piece of white paper, and paste these on either side of a piece of firm card stock. The adhesive must be applied evenly and completely so that the paper will stick to the underlying card wherever it might be cut.

The pieces are then laid out using a similar format to the board, and will be marked up with the proper values prior to cutting. This will result in triangular pieces. You could also have square or hexagonal pieces - indeed, hexagonal pieces may be prefereble, but I'm going to stick with triangular for now because they are easier to lay out and make since it would be all straight cuts.

Rather than pasting paper onto the card, another approach would be to use card with a fine finish on both sides then paint it in the proper colours, although laying out the pieces directly onto the finished surface would be harder than attaching a printed sheet of paper.

My thinking is that there should be a different set of pieces for each prototype version, and that these pieces would be marked with a colour code.

The protoype proportions are as follows:

red - only 1 leremoc for each colour, on the other side of a ferrorn; 6 thurin for each colour, five of which are backed by ferrorn and the remaining one has a thurin on the other side.

This piece layout should be used for both sides of a hexagonal cutout, although one side should be coloured blue.

green - 3 leremoc for each colour, one each backed by a ferrorn, thurin and leremoc; 18 thurin for each colour, one backed by a leremoc, five backed by thurin and the remainder have ferrorn on the other side.

This piece layout should be used for both sides of a hexagonal cutout, although one side should be coloured blue.

blue - 6 leremoc for each colour, one on the other side of a leremoc, two backed by thurin, and the remaining three by ferrorn; 36 thurin for each colour, two of which are backed by leremoc, ten backed by thurin, and the remainder have ferrorn on the other side.

This piece layout should be used for both sides of a hexagonal cutout, although one side should be coloured blue.

Here is an initial implementation of the above prototype piece sets, created by printing each of these images out then laminating them together with two sheets of thin card and then colouring in one side blue. Care had to be taken that the glue covered every part of the surface. This is from before the pieces have been cut up, of course.

In this picture, the red and green prototypes are showing their blue side, while the blue prototype is showing its white side. The blue is much clearer in person!

26-Jun-2004 - the above prototypes did not work well. The glue I used was too brittle once dry, and the pieces themselves were too small. I've realised these prototype pieces by scaling the images up by 50%, colouring the whites blue, and then only printing one side of some mid-weight card (240g weight). The backs were marked up with corresponding symbols by hand, then were cut out. These pieces are not as durable as the laminated pieces would have been, but there has been none of the separation of layers either which has meant I have spent zero time sticking piece faces back on.

02-Jul-2007 - I've settled on two more prototype piece styles:

  • hex mosaic - 1" hex mosaic tile is a good size, although perhaps a little large. The good part is that you can buy unglazed porcelain ones, and they take paint very well. The bad part is that they come as a 12"x12" sheet and it takes a long time to scrape the glue off the back. Fortunately, the glue is softened by water.

  • glass drops - some of the glass droplets you see being used for filling vases should work. I've found some which are a good size, about an inch across, and which are a consistent shape. So, much less boring scraping than with the mosaic. However, they will not hold paint so well as the porcelain, and will probably require varnishing. The glass is likely to be much more fragile than that used for Go stones.

    A three pound bag of ½" drops contained about 360 pieces, enough for a full set plus more than half a set over.

    Note that one significant drawback of these glass drops is their shape: they are usually as close to round as makes no difference, but one side is flat while the other is rounded. This makes it likely that the reverse colour will be visible, which could be a problem in three handed games.


Two-Handed Pieces: Final

There are two big uncertainties with the final form of the two-handed pieces:

  1. what are the piece proportions? This has been a fundamental question since the beginning. My leaning for a long time was that the proportions of leremoc:thurin:ferrorn should be 3:18:195 since this is the minimum count for each value to have at least one example of all values on the reverse.

    When it comes to it, though, I find myself realising that proportions of 6:36:174 are more pleasing. This satisfies the rule of sixes more thoroughly, and also is likely to make for a more dynamic game.

    This table summarises the relationships between pieces.

    Value Per Colour Per Reverse Value
    leremoc thurin ferrorn
    leremoc 6 1 2 3
    thurin 36 2 10 24
    ferrorn 174 3 24 147

    It also occurs that this may be one of those things which might vary on the game's native Orthe from province to province, possibly even telestre to telestre - the stolid Rimon might favour lower quantities of the mobile pieces while the more treacherous flexible Melkathi might prefer a style where mobility is more common.

    I still have concerns, though. Firstly, are more leremoc required to make the game playable? For instance, would a dozen be a better number? Secondly, I have assumed that it should be unpredictable what value is on the other side, but maybe all mobile pieces should have a ferrorn on the reverse? Again, this may be something which would vary by province.

  2. what are the symbols to be used? Golden Witchbreed remarks only that hieroglyphics are used to mark the piece values, not what those hieroglyphics might be.

    I'm not going to be doing any hieroglyphics.

    The symbols I want to use should be clear and distinct. I have settled on these.

    leremoc thurin ferrorn


Three-Handed Pieces

How to fit three colours onto two sided pieces?

The key to this question is the observation in Golden Witchbreed that the goal of the three handed game is to turn all the pieces to your colour that can be your colour which is given as 144 tiles, or two thirds of the board.

From this observation we find that the pieces must be divided as follows:

  • 72 blue and white
  • 72 blue and brown
  • 72 brown and white

The question of piece proportions arises again in the three handed game. Carrying the mobile piece counts from the two handed game into the three handed form seems reasonable, although the relative proportions with the values on the other side cannot be preserved.

The difficulty is the leremoc.

In the two handed game, there are six leremoc: one has another leremoc on the other side, two have thurin, while the remaining three have ferrorn on their reverse. This is true, of course, for both colours.

With six leremoc per colour in the three handed game, you have three with one alternate colour on the reverse and three with the other alternate colour. One of those has to be a leremoc, but you can't then have increasing numbers of thurin and ferrorn on the reverse: there is an equal chance of any piece value on the reverse of a leremoc.

Doubling the number of leremoc permits the same probabilities as with the two handed game, but pushes the problems down into the thurin: twelve leremoc implies six per reverse colour, which increases the number of thurin to 38. It also weakens the rarity value of the leremoc which are already relatively more common in the three handed game.

On balance, I think that leaving the leremoc count alone, even if it changes the reverse value proportions for the leremoc, is preferable to mucking with the thurin proportions, mostly because it leads to mobility inflation. The three handed game is going to be different regardless, and this seems like a fairly minor change in feel.

So, the three-handed piece proportions look like this:

Value Per Colour Per Reverse Value, Alternate Colour #1 Per Reverse Value, Alternate Colour #2
leremoc thurin ferrorn leremoc thurin ferrorn
leremoc 6 1 1 1 1 1 1
thurin 36 1 5 12 1 5 12
ferrorn 96 1 12 35 1 12 35

I will be making up these pieces using the glass drops, which as noted above introduces its own problems because the drops are not symmetrical: it is possible to see the reverse colour, and that reveals information about the mobility value of the reverse side also. Still, that is a materials problem rather than a rules problem.

04-May-2009 - picking this page up to finish it off after almost a two year break. I made the three handed set using the proportions defined here. Here are how they looked:

leremoc thurin ferrorn

Things to note:

  1. when looking at the flat side of the beads, it is very obvious what colour is on the curved side. I have tried to limit the damage by making all white pieces curved and all blue pieces flat. The browns are split, and I have spread the brown mobile pieces across both flat and curved sides.
  2. paint doesn't stick well to glass. These have had some light play, and a little bit of motion, but you can see chipping already even on this small sample.


Ochmir Pieces
Two Handed Prototype
Two Handed Final
Three Handed
Last updated 05-May-2009