CNC Cut This Open Source Hexagonal Board Game

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CNC Cut This Open Source Hexagonal Board Game

I first encountered YouTuber Pocket83 while covering his collaboration with Peter Brown to make a pair of Jurrassic Park-style canes. Just like the canes, another of his projects really stood out to me: a game called Iso-Path. In fact, this hexagonal board game was such an interesting piece, that I decided to make my own. And I was not the only one. Later in this post, you’ll see that others were quite smitten with this game as well.

The game itself is somewhat reminiscent of a beehive, given it’s 37 small hexagons placed within a larger hexagonal shaped board. These wooden hexagons form the game pieces, along with 4 white and 4 black markers. For each move, one player moves a hexagon and a marker, stacking the hexagons up to two high. Black can only move on the board level, while white can only move on top of two hexagons.

The player’s goal is to get one of their pieces to one of the hexagons that the other player’s pieces started on. Players can capture one of their opponent’s pieces if they end their turn with two of their markers on opposite sides of one of their opponent’s pieces. The game can also be played with three players, each starting at alternating sides of the board. The third player is able to move on a stack of only one hexagon. According to Pocket83, this doesn’t seem to give an advantage to any of the three players.

YouTube player

The game and gameplay mechanisms are well thought out, and it is pretty cool to see Pocket83 expertly cut out his board (mostly using a table saw). However, the best part is that he explains how to make the board and the pieces (in the video above) if you wanted to play this game yourself. He also provides the templates for making the board and the tiles, as well as the basic, advanced, and alternative rules.

So now that you’ve seen the original, here are several different versions.

Virtual Iso-Path

Perhaps the first one you should check out is this online version of the game that was made by “Cukeasaurus” with the Unity game engine. There are several others, but this one is Pocket83’s current favorite. If you’re wondering whether or not you’ll actually enjoy the game, just load this virtual version in your browser and try it before you start cutting!

Laser-Cut Iso-Path

If you watched Pocket83’s video, you might be thinking that it could also be made with computer-controlled tools. “Geeves” thought the same thing, and made his board with a laser cutter. You can check it out on Thingiverse. This board gets rid of the black and white glass gem game pieces used in Pocket83’s design, and instead uses small bee-embedded pieces to go with the hexagon theme.

The video below is of another game being laser-cut out of acrylic. Although not seen here, the finished product likely looks quite interesting.

YouTube player

CNC Router Iso-Path

Some of us use lasers, some table saws, and others, like myself, use a CNC router as his or her preferred making method. Though it’s not always possible, sometimes an idea bounces around in my head long enough that I just have to build it. After examining Pocket83’s templates and video, I drew it up in CAD myself and sent it to my CNC router for cutting.

You can find my DXF file in the build video’s annotations, but, as seen in the video, there is a bit more work than just pressing a button. Sanding and painting isn’t too hard, but waiting for everything to dry can be extremely tedious! I found it useful to undercut the side pieces to allow the sharp hexagons to fit, and mill the board’s hexagon lines so that I could fill them in with orange paint.

YouTube player

I’m extremely happy with how mine turned out, though, admittedly, I haven’t really gotten a chance to play it. For now, it’s really neat to have something unique sitting on my office table.

So what’s next? Will someone 3D-print one of these boards? Maybe someone will make one out of metal with a waterjet or plasma cutter? Personally, I’d love to see a gigantic outdoor board made out of patio tiles, though I admit that might take more heavy stone and earth than most of makers are comfortable with!

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

View more articles by Jeremy S Cook


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