100 Game Reference Sheets … and Counting …


Cosmic Encounter

Way back in 1981, on my sixteenth birthday, a schoolfriend gave me a copy of a game called Cosmic Encounter. While I’d been playing role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons for a few years, I’d only recently been enjoying boardgames. Cosmic Encounter is a bit of a classic in the small world of boardgames; it’s been through editions by Eon (the 1977 original, and the one my friend gave me), Mayfair Games, West End Games, Games Workshop, and the toy giant Hasbro among others—sixteen different editions apparently.

So it’s a nice coincidence that the one hundredth entry on my Games Sheets page should happen to be for the new Fantasy Flight edition of Cosmic Encounter, which I just bought. One hundred entries! That’s countless hours of unpaid writing and design work—summarising rulesets, designing reference sheets, deep-etching scanned logos and making backgrounds. Why the hell do I do it?

I have no idea. I suppose it’s the same reason I can’t imagine being anything but a graphic designer. I love to make something that is well designed and has a useful purpose, and I love boardgames, and if there’s one thing that improves the experience of playing a boardgame it’s a) not having to trudge through the rulebook for a refresher course everytime you play one and b) having something next to you during the game that saves you from pausing the action while you look something up in a rulebook.

The great thing about boardgames is that you can get completely immersed in the experience. And it’s a very social experience: a group of friends gather around a table and play out some form of shared story, whether co-operatively or competitively. A good reference sheet stops you from being wrenched out of the flow of that story and back into the nitpicking world of the rules that hold it all together.

Basically, it just makes the game more fun.

Also, I get a great deal out of satisfaction from the fact that they seem to make games more fun for a lot of other people all over the world too. I’ve even had people gather together online to buy me a game so they could get reference sheets for it. These are just a few of the scores of comments I’ve had from people who have downloaded my sheets:

“I love your rules summaries, they are the first thing I look for on Boardgamegeek when I have bought a new game.”

“I wanted to drop a note to say thank you for all of the game summaries you’ve made, I find any game that you’ve made a sheet for to be that much more enjoyable when I play it.”

“I just felt you should know that you have fans out there (as if you didn’t know already). I’m one of them. It is only right that you be told! I really appreciate all of the work you’ve done for the gaming community. I know I’ve used and abused your good will and fine work for months, now! Thanks again for all the great work you’ve done!”

Hey, so I’m not changing the world. But I’ve made a few people out there a bit happier.

So, here we are at one hundred entries, with the rules summary and reference sheet for Cosmic Encounter. As usual, print out in colour on card, laminate and trim for best results! Enjoy!

Son of Boardgame Reference Sheets

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More goodies for gamers on the Boardgame Reference Sheets page. A rules summary and reference sheet for the Fantasy Flight Games Runebound expansion Sands of Al-Kalim (and a slight update to the Runebound sheet itself); a slight fix to the sheets for the Viking game Fire & Axe; and finally I’ve uploaded my rules summary and reference sheet for the classic Puerto Rico. Il Principe by Z-Man Games coming soon!

The Kindness of Strangers


Occasionally someone does something that reminds you that there are thoughtful, kind people in the world. Those visitors to this blog who play boardgames are aware of the Freebies page where I share all the PDF rules summaries and reference sheets I have made for boardgames in my collection. Well, out of the blue, a member of BoardgameGeek decided that he wanted to show his appreciation for my work in a tangible way, and made a donation to me for the buying of new games. A completely unsolicited act of generosity.

There are some nice people out there.

More Lovingly-Designed Boardgame Reference Sheets

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For you boardgamers who visit the site, I’ve added several new listings to the Boardgame Reference Sheets page. There’s a rules summary for the new Flying Frog zombie game Last Night on Earth, a rules summary and new reference sheet for the Z-Man Games card game Camelot Legends, a rules summary for Days of Wonder’s latest, Colosseum, and most significantly, a whole pack of reference material for the new Take on You/Fantasy Flight Games alternative-history occult Nazi-themed combat skirmish game Tannhäuser. Zombies, Arthurian knights, Roman impresarios and magic-wielding Nazis—don’t you love boardgaming?

Update: Rules summaries for the superhero mischief of Fantasy Flight’s Marvel Heroes and the Z-Man Games bidding and trading game Silk Road.

New Games Reference Sheets

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BattleLoreIf only I could remember that obscure rule … fret no longer, some new boardgame reference sheets have been added to the Freebies section: AT-43, BattleLore, Blue Moon, Blue Moon City, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game, Call of Cthulhu CCG, Dracula, Dungeon Twister, Fury of Dracula (2006 version), Jambo, Mall of Horror, Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, Nexus Ops, Runebound 2nd Edition, San Juan, Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit and Zombies!!!. Enjoy!

The Joy of Boardgames

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Just a brief reminder that there is a whole bunch of lovingly-designed rules summaries and reference sheets for many of the most popular boardgames (and some old classics) in the Freebies section. All free to download to enhance your next game (and make re-learning the rules much faster and less painful), of course. I’ve just uploaded some new files.

And don’t forget Boardgamegeek for all your boardgaming needs. My number one internet distraction.