Merchants of the Shifting Seas


Title:    Merchants of the Shifting Seas
Nov-Dec 15
Board Game
Design & Fabrication
Michelle Senteio & Noca Wu
Built as our final project in Eric Zimmerman’s Design 1 class, this was a euro-style board game we designed around the themes of nonviolence and exploration. Players control merchant houses attempting to chart trade routes through an unknown ocean. Its a game of territorial control in which players must balance short term gains against more lucrative long-term goals.


Players build the board procedurally as they play, in a process inspired by the beginning of a game in Civilization V. Flipping over the tiles and seeing the board emerge dynamically is one of the best parts of the game. In testing, it did introduce problematic variance in how the tiles could come down, potentially creating unfair board states. We solved this by introducing some statistical smoothing; by dividing the map into shallow and deep regions with different tilesets, as well as “known” islands in certain parts of the board, we could balance some of the randomness so that no one received too great an advantage due to luck.



We really went all out on the production values, and it felt good to put in so much hard work and have such an amazing final product. We laser cut all those hex tiles and painstakingly glued all the artwork to them. The sepia of the old map board, contrasted with the beautiful blue ocean tiles, is really visually arresting.